Chitra Soundar, Frané Lessac (illus)
Otter Barry Books
Pattan is a farmer living beside a river in India. He finds a poorly plant and tends it carefully. It produces a magnificent pumpkin, which grows and grows. When the rains come, flooding the land, Pattan’s family and animals need to evacuate quickly. Pattan cuts an enormous hole in his gigantic pumpkin, hollowing it out so there is room for himself and his wife, animals and plenty of food too. The pumpkin saves them all from the flood and eventually the rain stops and they reach dry land.
Based on a traditional tale from Southern India, Pattan’s Pumpkin is an enjoyable flood story, beautifully told and illustrated. There are clear similarities to Noah’s Ark and also echoes of other Indian folk tales such as The Old Woman and the Red Pumpkin.
Share the story
See here for a trailer
Read aloud and join in
Read the story aloud to your child taking time to enjoy the vibrant illustrations as you so.
As you read the story again encourage children to join in, for example with the words in bold.
Talk about the story
Share favourite illustrations and parts of the story and talk about why you chose them.
Is anything puzzling? Children might not be sure what flooding is for example. There may be unfamiliar words such as ‘sapling’ or ‘harvest’ talk about these things together.
Why does your child think Pattan decided to take animals and plants with him? What might have happened if he didn’t?
Does your child know any other stories like this? Perhaps they may know the story of Noah’s Ark or the Old Woman and the Red Pumpkin for example.
Tell the story
Once children are familiar with what happens they could tell the story using the pictures to help them. It doesn’t matter if their version is a bit different. Join in if your child gets stuck.
Things to make and do
Have fun with comparisons
Pattan said the pumpkin was nearly ‘as tall as a mountain’ and ‘fatter than the pigs’. What else could it be compared to? Have fun taking turns with different ways to describe the pumpkin.
The pumpkin was as tall as……….
The pumpkin was fatter than………
The pumpkin was as orange as………
Draw a folded card picture of Pattan, his family and animals inside the pumpkin
Print the template onto card or paper. Fold it in half and cut around the pumpkin making sure not to cut across the stalk so the two sides remain joined.
Children can colour the pumpkin and then open the card to draw Pattan, his wife, the animals and food inside.
Cook with a pumpkin
Scoop the flesh from a real pumpkin, talk about the colour and texture of the pumpkin as you do. Use the flesh to do some cooking.
You could make pumpkin soup
See lots of other recipe ideas
Grow a pumpkin
Save a few seeds from a pumpkin for planting and watch it grow. See here for some helpful information.
Make a colourful painting
Children could choose a small section of one of the illustrations to paint themselves– a bit with lots of different colours works best. They could hold their hands in a picture frame shape to try out different selections. Then they can paint or colour their own picture of this section.
Find out more
Find out about how Frané Lessac created the illustrations here
Find out more about Chitra Soundar and other books she has written here
We have activities for two other pumpkin stories on Lovemybooks:
No Dinner by Jessica Souhami (also from India and based on ‘The Old Woman and the Red Pumpkin’.
Also see Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
Find out more about pumpkins here including how big or heavy they can grow