Protagonist Pumpkins: Johnston's Ferri Middle School holds inaugural Book Character Pumpkin Contest


Not since the Legend of Sleepy Hollow have pumpkins and protagonists been so closely linked.

Ferri Middle School students have been altering, painting and crafting pumpkins and gourds to look like their favorite book characters.

The creations are on display in the school’s library, and awards are expected to be handed out today for “Most Creative,” “Crowd Favorite” and “Principal’s Pick.”

Seventh-grader Juliana Buscemi stood next to her one-eyed pumpkin sculpture inspired by “Wonder,” a book by R.J. Palacio.

“I love this book and the movie,” she said. “I read it with my mom in the fourth grade and thought it was cool. It’s about a boy who was born with a deformity on his face. He doesn’t have a lot of friends; he’s an outcast. But then he goes to a camp and finds friends who appreciate the true value of friendship.”

Seventh-grader Emma Taglianetti turned her pumpkin into a smiling, lazy pooch with big floppy ears, a character from “Lila and Hadley,” by author Kody Keplinger.

“I found this book inspirational,” she said, cradling her creation in her arms. “It’s about a blind girl who goes to a shelter and finds a dog who hates everybody. They form a bond and they help each other work through their issues.”

Eighth-grader Yarielis DeJesus picked a common theme, Harry Potter. At least three projects on display focused on the young wizard in J.K. Rowling’s epic series.

“I like how Harry Potter had a lot of troubles and he overcomes them with the help of his friends,” DeJesus said, pointing out the pumpkins authentic wand, glasses and handcrafted Sorting Hat.

Other versions on display featured a separate small white pumpkin portraying Potter’s trusty companion snowy owl Hedwig.

Seventh-grader Madisyn Card picked up her huge pumpkin and held it high. The face was distinctly pale with button eyes.

“I chose ‘Coraline,’” she said while posing for a photo. “I actually liked the movie more than the book because it was more visual and had so much more detail. I like scary things and Coraline is a great character. She’s a girl who doesn’t listen to her mom. She finds a doorway in her room that leads to another world where her parents are nicer. But they also try to replace her eyes with buttons.”

“Coraline” is a dark fantasy children's novella written by British author Neil Gaiman and published in 2002. The 2009 stop-motion animated film was directed by “Nightmare Before Christmas” auteur Henry Selick, and has become a creepy modern classic.

A Nancy Drew Mystery, “The Whispering Statue,” written by Carolyn Keene, inspired sixth-grader Chelsea Guy’s masterpiece.

“I picked this book because I thought the way the author chose her words was very unique,” Guy explained. “I loved the mystery.”

One student used a little magic while crafting her made-up melon.

Sixth-grader Valentina Rincon twisted the tale of a children’s classic in which pumpkins already played a pivotal role. She chose Cinderella as the inspiration for her pumpkin project.

Rincon painted her Jack-O-Lantern baby blue and dressed the gourd in a flowing matching gown.

“In Cinderella, she was supposed to go to the ball but didn’t have transportation,” Rincon said. “Her fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a carriage. So I decided to turn a pumpkin into Cinderella.”

Editor’s Note: Look for an update on this story, featuring the contest winners, in next week’s edition.


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