THE BIG NEWS
It all began at the beginning of the beginning of another day in the life of Mr. Pumpkinhead. Mr. Pumpkinhead was a mischievous pumpkin who lived on Friendly Farm, in Wonderplace County. He had a bit of pumpkin magic and some hard-to-believe pumpkin powers which let him to do things other pumpkins could not do. That was because there was something very special about his seeds. Whenever he was in trouble, and needed a little extra power, his seeds would join in to help him. Mr. Pumpkinhead had some very special friends, too. One of those friends was Ruffled Rooster, the farm's living alarm clock.
Every day, Ruffled Rooster started early, very early, fluttering around, from one fence post to another, waking everyone. "Cock-a-doodle-a-doodle-do! Don't doodle, there's a lot to do! Get up, get up! Get up! The sun is bright! The day is light! Get up, get up...get up!"
Ruffled Rooster's chest always swelled with pride when he glanced around and saw the barnyard alive with activity. He just knew that the day could not get off to such a good start if he did not crow and do his part. So, when he had finished crowing, he cackled away, eating his breakfast and enjoying the day.
In the sky, Mr. Glow Circle was beginning to shine his rays all over the farm. That's when Gladlips Goose heard Farmer Rubenstein talking to Goldie Retriever. He was planning a trip to the great city of Peoplesville. Thanks to Gladlips, everyone on Friendly Farm had heard about Peoplesville. But, of all the plants and animals on the farm, only Goldie Retriever had been there.
Goldie was Farmer Rubenstein's body guard. She felt it her duty to be with him everywhere he went. She followed him into and out of the barn. She traced his steps into and out of the woods. She shadowed him into and out of the pasture. She hounded him into and out of the farmhouse. Whether it was in the meadow, or in the forest; in the rain, or in the snow; on top of the mountain, or way down by the creek, she was with him wherever he went. So when Farmer Rubenstein went to Peoplesville, Goldie always got to go along. Mr. Pumpkinhead was a little sad, for he had always wanted to go to Peoplesville. So, after Gladlips told him the news, he thought, If Farmer Rubenstein and Goldie are going to Peoplesville, maybe, just maybe, I can go, too.
THE GREAT IDEA
Mr. Pumpkinhead's seeds started spinning. He drifted off into a dream-state of pumpkin mind. He could see it all…There he was, rolling around Peoplesville, greeting everyone he met and smiling his pumpkin smile; popping his head into little shops and tasting the good food. He would have so much to talk about when he returned. What a great idea!
His thoughts stopped when Goldie Retriever yelped as if her tail had been stung by a bee. All the plants and animals looked up to see a big red truck coming toward the farmhouse. A sign on the truck read Peoplesville Express.
The truck stopped in front of the farmhouse. The man from Peoplesville got out and went inside. If that truck came from Peoplesville, thought Mr. Pumpkinhead, it must be going back to Peoplesville. Just to be sure, he would ask Gladlips Goose. Gladlips said she was absolutely sure, though not quite positive, that the man from Peoplesville had come to take Farmer Rubenstein and Goldie into town. Still, she said Mr. Pumpkinhead should ask Onlia Owl, for Onlia was very wise, and she would know for sure.
So Mr. Pumpkinhead rolled over to the giant oak tree. Clearing the pumpkin seeds from his throat, he called out, "Hello, good friend, and how are you? Do you see Big Red Truck that is on the farm still? Will it be returning to Peoplesville?"
"Whoo, whoo, Mr. Pumpkinhead. What are you up to?"
Mr. Pumpkinhead was happy to tell Onlia about his great idea. "I will hitch a ride in Big Red Truck," he said. "I have a plan, but I must act fast. I shall go to Peoplesville, at last. I will roll myself from the big hay stack. I will land in the truck and hide in the back."
Onlia hooted and made a serious frown. Then she replied, "The truck, indeed, has come from town And shall return, indeed, indeed; But don't be foolish; stop and think, For my advice it's best you heed. If you are wise, then you will stay Right in your pumpkin patch instead, For I fear trouble in your plan; Don't do it, Mr. Pumpkinhead! It's fine to have adventures, yes. They can be fun, there is no doubt; But you'd be best to think and plan Before, on this day, you set out. This trip you wish to make alone May put you in great danger just Beyond Yon Mountain's hill." Although Mr. Pumpkinhead thanked Onlia Owl for her advice, he had already made up his mind. He would go to Peoplesville today! So away he rolled, to the haystack in the barnyard. He rolled and grunted and strained. At last, he reached the top of the haystack. By this time, all his friends had gathered to watch. "One! Two! Three! Wheee!" Off rolled Mr. Pumpkinhead. He flew through the air and landed with a thumpity bump! When he opened his eyes, there he was, sitting right on top of a clump of straw, in the big red truck from Peoplesville.
Everyone shouted, "Hooray! Hooray!" Just in time, too, for the man from Peoplesville came out of the farmhouse with Farmer Rubenstein and Goldie. They headed for Big Red Truck and climbed inside.
Mr. Pumpkinhead nestled down in the straw. The truck door closed with a bang! The engine started with a puff of smoke. It made a sound that gave Mr. Pumpkinhead a chill. Then it shuddered and sputtered, on its way to Peoplesville.
THE BIG SPLASH
Mr. Pumpkinhead smiled and waved goodbye to his friends.
Likely Lamb was standing all alone. "Baa, baa, baa," she cried.
Onlia Owl flew down by her side. "Whoo? Whoo? What’s this I am hearing? Whoo, whoo’s the one who is boo-hooing?" "It’s just me, Onlia. I am so saaad. I am afraaaid I will never see Mr. Pumpkinhead agaaain. Baa, baa, baa." Onlia said, "Oooo, it’s true. His leaving is sad, and I am sad, too. But, we all must learn from the risks we take. Mr. Pumpkinhead will learn from his mistake. Don’t you worry, and don’t you cry. Take some wool and wipe your eyes. I’ll fly over our pumpkin friend. I'll make sure he gets home safely again." Big Red Truck’s bed was hard on Mr. Pumpkinhead’s belly. It was hard on his back and his neck. It was hard on his bottom and his top. It was hard on his inside and his outside. He ached all over. He even feared that he might crack open! He rolled around a little this way. He rolled around a little that way. "Oh," he moaned, "I miss my pumpkin patch bed."
Thumpity thump! Bumpity bump! Thump! Bump! Thump! Bump! Big Red Truck hit hole after hole in the bumpy road.
Mr. Pumpkinhead bounced out of his spot. Then the truck hit an even bigger hole. Kerplunk! Wham! This time, Mr. Pumpkinhead bounced into the air! Up and up he went! He sailed right out of Big Red Truck! He sailed right over the railing of Overriver Bridge! He spun round and round. He went down and down as he watched Big Red Truck ramble on, along the road to Peoplesville. Then he landed with a big splash, right in Endless River!
Mr. Pumpkinhead was floating all alone. He felt a little pumpkinnysick. He must get out of Endless River, but he must be quick! His pumpkin seeds started churning about as he tried to think of a way to get out! His pumpkin eyes were burning. Round and round his head was turning. As Endless River rushed on, it was pulling Mr. Pumpkinhead with it!
He called on his orange pumpkin power. At last, his head stopped rolling. He looked around. Things did not look good at all. There was not one friend on whom he could call. Inside, he felt blue. Oh, what would Mr. Pumkinhead do?
He was happy to know that he was not sinking. He put his pumpkin head to thinking. His pumpkin seeds kept churning. His pumpkin eyes kept burning. For Friendly Farm, his heart was yearning. Back and forth his head flopped. Down, down pumpkin tears dropped.
But no one answered. Instead, there was a loud splash in the river! Drops of cold water made him shiver. Right there, before his pumpkin eyes, a large tree branch had fallen from the sky. The branch had fallen right in his way. He bumped up against it and there he stayed. Very slowly, Mr. Pumpkinhead spun around. There was nothing but water in front of him. There was nothing but water to the right of him. There was nothing but water behind him. But when he turned a little bit more, he saw some large stones sticking out of the water. Just past the stones, there was sand, and then grass. Just past the grass, there was a large, dark, green forest. "Hooray!" shouted Mr. Pumpkinhead. "If I can make it out of the river, maybe, just maybe, I can find my way back home!
Mr. Pumpkinhead had to get to the riverbank. With all of his orange pumpkin power, he strained and pushed till his pumpkin skin turned red. Then he strained and pushed some more, until he rolled his pumpkin body through the water. He moved closer and closer to the riverbank. At last, his pumpkin tummy felt little rocks…then sand…then grass…. "I made it!" he cried out loud. He sat back on his rind, feeling pumpkinnny proud. He knew he should keep going, but he had no way of knowing which way was best. In his pumpkin mind, he just wanted to rest. One thing he knew for sure. He did not want to go through the forest. He had heard Gladlips Goose call it Fear Forest because it was very dark and scary. From it came noises that made the animals of Friendly Farm leery.
As Mr. Pumpkinhead thought about Friendly Farm, he nodded his head and fell fast asleep. But he didn't sleep long, for he woke with a chill when he remembered Onlia’s warning about going to Peoplesville: 'It's fine to have adventures, yes. They can be fun, there is no doubt; but you'd be best to think and plan before, on this day, you set out. This trip you wish to make alone to unknown Peoplesville may put you in great danger just beyond Yon Mountain's hill.'
Danger? Mr. Pumpkinhead said to himself. He trembled at the thought of it. But he didn't tremble long, for just then there was another loud splash behind him. Water splashed everywhere! Drops of water pelted his head!
THE STRANGE NOISE
The noise of the splash frightened Mr. Pumpkinhead. It made him come to his pumpkin senses. His pumpkin skin tightened. His seeds sloshed around in his tummy. He was pumpkinny scared! His heart was thumping in his pumpkin chest. He began to sweat orange sweat. With his strongest voice, he said, "Mr. Pumpkinhead, you got yourself into this mess; now you must get yourself out of it!" He rolled forward a little. Should he go to the left, or to the right? Ahead of him was Fear Forest. Behind him was Endless River. And up above him was something strange, making scary noises. He thumped the stump on his head. "I don't like this," he said. "I wish I had listened and stayed home instead." He cleared the seeds from his throat. "Help! Help!" he cried again. But again there was no answer. Deep, down inside, Mr. Pumpkinhead felt all alone and sad. He closed his pumpkin eyes and said, "I miss Friendly Farm and all my friends. I am so afraid. I want this frightful day to end."
Suddenly, he felt warm all over. He opened his eyes and looked up. There was Mr. Glow Circle, high in the sky. His bright warm rays were falling on Mr. Pumpkinhead's orange husk.
Finally, a familiar face, thought Mr. Pumpkinhead. "Hello, up there!" he shouted. "I am glad to see you! Can you show me how to get back to Friendly Farm?"
Mr. Pumpkinhead knew that Mr. Glow Circle could not talk. But Mr. Glow Circle could do other things that everyone on Friendly Farm understood. If there was going to be rain, he would pull some clouds over his face. If it was going to be hot, he would shoot his warm rays all over the place. Now, without a sound, Mr. Glow Circle shifted every one of his shiny rays. Like magic, his beams of golden sunlight pointed the way.
"Thank you, Mr. Glow Circle!" Mr. Pumpkinhead shouted up to the sky. He was so pumpkinny-happy, he wanted to cry!With a smile on his face, he turned to follow Mr. Glow Circle’s rays."Oh, no!" he cried. "Not Fear Forest!"
Mr. Pumpkinhead sat back on his rind. His pumpkin seeds churned. No other way could he find. If he wanted to follow Mr. Glow Circle's rays, he would have to go through the forest. Calling on all of his seed magic, and all of his orange power, he rolled toward the tall trees and stopped. The forest looked pumpkinishly-ghouly, but he had to roll on.
Inside the forest, big trees blocked Mr. Glow Circle's rays. There were dark shadows all around on the ground. Inch by inch, Mr. Pumpkinhead rolled ahead. But the darker it got, the slower he rolled. Finally, he stopped. His heart was beating pumpkinny hard.
This time, Mr. Glow Circle shifted his bright rays and poured them right around the trees. They fell softly on Mr. Pumpkinhead and brightened a large spot on the ground around him. When he looked up ahead, the shadows were gone! In their place was a pathway of sunlight shining all the way through Fear Forest! Now he could roll on. But first, he needed to rest.
Just as he started to close his pumpkin eyes, he heard another scary sound. Swish, swish…clap, clap…slap, slap…kerplunk! He didn't wait to find out what it was! Instead, he tightened his pumpkin skin and called on all his pumpkin power. Then he rolled as fast as his pumpkin body could roll!
At a curve in the path, he stopped to take a deep breath. The forest was very quiet, except for a teeny tiny laugh. "Tee-hee-hee!" Ahead of him was a squirrely little creature that laughed again. Tee-hee-hee! Tee-hee-hee!”
"Who are you?" demanded Mr. Pumpkinhead. "And what's so funny?"
"I'm Cheery Chipmunk. Who are you? You look so funny, so orange, and so round. Tee-hee-hee!"
"I am Mr. Pumpkinhead. I am a pumpkin. Pumpkins are orange and round. Why are you laughing at me?"
"Tee-hee-hee! I’m not laughing at you, you see. Laughing is just what I like to do."
"Do you live here, in Fear Forest?" asked Mr. Pumpkinhead.
"Yes, I live here. But why do you call it Fear Forest?"
"Because, it is scary," said Mr. Pumpkinhead. "It is dark and spooky and mysteriously ookie."
Cheery Chipmunk laughed again. "We who live here call it Peaceful Place because it is so peaceful here. There is nothing here for you to fear."
Smiles came to Mr. Pumpkinhead’s face. "Thank you for telling me," he said."Now, if you can direct me toward Friendly Farm, I will be on my way."
"There is a place over Yon Mountain’s hill. It’s a farm where plants and animals live, so says Willie Whip-o-will. Just roll down through the gully, for it's all downhill. Then roll up, up, to Yon Mountain’s top. If you hurry, you will get there before dark. Now scurry away, and do not stop."
"Thanks, cheerful friend. I will roll along before the day comes to an end."
So Mr. Pumpkinhead rolled quickly to the bottom of the gully. Then he started the long roll up Yon Mountain's hill.
THE LONG, HARD CLIMB
Mr. Pumpkinhead rolled up, up, toward the top of Yon Mountain. The higher he got, the harder the rolling became. Every inch of his orange husk was tired. "I can't make it!" he cried. He thumped his stump and settled on his rind. "Oh my!" he said. "This feels so bad. This whole adventure makes me sad. It started out in a great way, but this has become a frightful day! I should have been happy to stay at home. Why, oh, why, did I want to roam? On Friendly Farm, I had all I needed. Onlia Owl I should have heeded." He was pumpkinny-beat. He started to doze in pumpkinny-defeat. But there was that strange noise again! Swish, swish…clap, clap…slap, slap…kerplunk! It scared him pumpkin-awake.
Fear filled his pumpkin body! His pumpkin heart beat loudly! His seeds were churning. His pumpkin smiles were turning upside down. His pumpkin stump flopped down. Before he could think one more thought, he heard the noise again. This time, it was louder, and closer.
Swish, swish…clap, clap…slap, slap…kerplunk!
Now Mr. Pumpkinhead put forth his orange power in a way he had never done before. He grunted and groaned. He strained and moaned. With all of his pumpkin will, he moved forward and upward. At last, he reached the top of Yon Mountain's hill. He stopped for only a moment when he heard Swish, swish…clap, clap…slap, slap…kerplunk!
He turned this way and that, looking up and down. He stretched his rind, looking all around. His pumpkin heart was pumping! His pumpkin seeds were jumping! He closed his eyes pumpkinly tight. He tightened his husk with all his might. "What is that sound?" he said, with fright. Swish, swish…clap, clap…slap, slap…kerplunk!
THE BIG SURPRISE
Before he knew it, Mr. Pumpkinhead was rolling full blast down the other side of Yon Mountain. The leaves tickled him. Briars prickled him. Bushes brushed him. Rocks scuffed him. But still he rolled on. Everything was swirling around, making him a little pumpkin-dizzy. His pumpkin body lifted off the ground. He went rolling and gliding through the air! He came down and landed with a thud that jarred his pumpkin seeds. A burst of hot air gushed out of his pumpkin mouth. He bounced and bounced with thud after thud! Then he rolled and rolled and rolled some more. At first, he rolled fast. Then he rolled slower and slower. Finally, he came to a stop. Slowly, very slowly, Mr. Pumpkinhead opened his eyes. At the same time, he heard a swooshing sound. But it was not a frightening sound! It was a sound he knew! It was Onlia Owl swooshing high in the sky! He watched as she flew down and settled on the branch of a tree. But it wasn't just any tree. It was Onlia's giant oak tree! "I'm home!" he shouted. "I'm back on Friendly Farm!" He was pumpkinny-happy! He rolled over and kissed the ground. He did a pumpkin-dance all around. It felt pumpkinny-good to be home again.
THE WARM WELCOME
Raven Crow spread the news that Mr. Pumpkinhead was back. "Caw, caw, caw! Come one, come all! The adventurer has returned. Come hear what new things he has learned. Caw, caw, caw! Come one, come all!"
As everyone gathered round, Onlia Owl hooted. "Whoo, whoo, whoo do you suppose has arrived? Whoo, whoo, whoo do you see has survived? It’s our friend and adventurer. We all know him well. I think he might have a frightful story to tell."
Everyone cheered for Mr. Pumpkinhead as he took his bows. Although his pumpkin husk had some lumps and bumps, he rolled one way and then another. He bowed as he thumped his stump. He used every one of his pumpkin-smiles. He felt like a hero all the while.
"May I have your attention?" hooted Onlia Owl. "I am glad we all are here today. We are happy to see that Mr. Pumpkinhead has made it safely home. But it is getting late. Mr. Glow Circle will soon be sinking away. I know everyone wants to hear about Mr. Pumpkinhead’s day. He may have some advice we all need—advice he himself did not heed. Because he didn't listen, he got into trouble a lot, but now he's back safely, in this spot. Hear ye, everyone! Listen up, I say! Mr. Pumpkinhead, please tell us all about your day." Mr. Pumpkinhead’s orange face turned a little red. He agreed with Onlia. He nodded his pumpkin head. He bowed again as the crowd cheered, "Hooray! Hooray!" He rolled a little and spun around. He took a deep breath as he looked at the crowd. His pumpkin-thoughts were spinning within. He cleared the seeds from his throat as he thought of what to say and where to begin.
Mr. Pumpkinhead thought long and hard about what he would say. He could not let anyone know he had been afraid. He straightened his stump. Then he began.
"As you know, we have all heard a great deal about this place called Peoplesville. We have all dreamed of going there, but no one has ever dared. Earlier today, Gladlips Goose said that Big Red Truck would be taking Farmer Rubenstein and Goldie Retriever to Peoplesville. That's when I planned my great adventure. Onlia said it could be dangerous, but I went anyway."
"Hee-how did you get there?" brayed Eonky Donkey. "Well," said Mr. Pumpkinhead, "I didn't really get there. You see, I had an adventure, but it was not the adventure I had planned. It went something like this…" And so Mr. Pumpkinhead began his tale.
"I used all of my pumpkin power to reach the top of the haystack in the barnyard," he said. "Most of you watched as I rolled down the haystack and sailed through the air. I landed in the back of Big Red Truck. I was on my way to Peoplesville when the truck hit a hole on Overriver Bridge. It bounced so hard that it threw me high up into the air! I flew right out of Big Red Truck and landed in Endless River with a splash!"
"O-o-o-oh!" they all said together.
Mr. Pumpkinhead stopped talking long enough to let everyone picture the fearful event. Then he took a deep breath and swelled his chest. "A large branch stopped me from being swept on down the river," he said. "Then I found some stones that led me right to Fear Forest."
"Oh, no! Not Fear Forest!" said Hatchess Hen. The animals all shuddered. Mr. Pumpkinhead went on to tell how he had rolled bravely through the forest with a strange noise chasing him every roll of the way. "Whaaat waas it?" asked Goatee Goat. "I don't know," said Mr. Pumpkinhead, "but it went Swish, swish…clap, clap…slap, slap…kerplunk!" "Swish, swish…clap, clap…slap, slap…kerplunk?" they all said together. "Swish, swish…clap, clap…slap, slap…kerplunk!" Mr. Pumpkinhead said again.
"You must have been veerrry friiightened," said Likely Lamb.
"Oh…no…" said Mr. Pumpkinhead. But just then he looked up and saw Onlia Owl looking down at him with a friendly scowl.
"Well, maybe a little," he said. "Is that what kept you mooooving?" asked Madame Moo-Moo." "Indeed, it was!" replied Mr. Pumpkinhead.
Gladlips Goose spoke up next. "Mr. Pumpkinhead, you frightened us today! And, since you were just a little frightened by that noise, why don't we call this day Frightful Friday?"
Everyone applauded and shouted, "Hooray! From now on, Frightful Friday will be our special holiday!"
Then Onlia Owl spoke up in her wise and tactful way. "Mr. Pumpkinhead, did you learn anything at all from your Frightful Friday adventure?"
Mr. Pumpkinhead's cheeks turned red again. "I do have a little bit more to say," he said.
THE PUZZLE SOLVED
Mr. Pumpkinhead thumped his stump again. He thought again of his frightful day. His pumpkin seeds began to churn in his tummy.
"You all know I love an adventure," he said. "Adventures can be great. They can be fun, but it's always best to think and plan before you act. This morning, I asked Onlia Owl for advice, but then I didn't listen. I was pumpkinny-hardheaded. So, later today, I found myself in a frightening place. Now I know I was wrong. The next time, I will think twice. The next time, I will listen to good advice."
Hatchess Hen cackled, "You should. You should."
Henry Horse neighed, "Very good, very good."
Tommy Tortoise spoke in a voice very low. "That-a-boy, Mr. Pumpkinhead! Way to go!"
The flowers perked up in their flower bed.
Gladlips squawked, "I told you so, Mr. Pumpkinhead!"
Bubbles the pig grunted, "Oink! Oink!"
Ralph Robin bopped his head, boink! boink!
Likely Lamb stood alone and cried. A pumpkin named Dimples rolled close to her side.
Suddenly, Mr. Pumpkinhead got very quiet. He sat in deep pumpkin-thought.
"Whoo, whoo, Mr. Pumpkinhead. What is troubling you?" Onlia Owl hooted. He looked at Onlia. "I still don't know what that strange noise was or where it came from. All I know is that the sound was so frightening that it made me keep moving. It helped me to get back home safely." Onlia hooted again. "Mr. Pumpkinhead…everyone…please move back, away from my tree." Everyone did as Onlia said. "Now, look up here," Onlia hooted. From high up in the tree, Onlia dropped a large branch. It slid down the tree limbs with a Swish, swish…clap, clap…slap, slap…kerplunk! "Now do you know, Mr. Pumpkinhead?" "It was you all the time, Onlia!" Mr. Pumpkinhead shouted with joy. "You were following me all day long! That's why you got back to your tree just as I rolled down Yon Mountain! Thank you, Onlia!" Onlia swooshed off into the sky. "Whoo, whoo, what are friends for?" she hooted. Mr. Pumpkinhead swelled with pumpkinny-joy. Then he sang a song to all of his friends: "Please listen carefully, everyone!
Adventures, as you know, can be such fun,
But it isn't smart to shun advice;
Sometimes it helps if you just think twice.
It is smart to take some time to think
So that, into trouble, you will not sink.
Don't be unwise! Heed good advice instead,
So you won't get into mischief like Mr. Pumpkinhead!"
As Mr. Glow Circle slipped further down in the sky, Ruffled Rooster gave a crow and called the chickens in, to roost. The other animals all made their way to their warm beds. Mr. Pumpkinhead rolled away to the pumpkin patch and nestled snugly down in his leafy bed. He was glad to be home again. Things had returned to normal on Friendly Farm.