Smashing Pumpkins: Marley and the Runaway Pumpkin by John Grogan and Susan Hill
All summer and fall the family had tended the pumpkin.
All summer and fall they kept their big puppy, Marley, out of the garden.
And against all odds--with the "world's worst dog" around, the pumpkin flourishes under the Grogan family's tender care, and by fall it has become absolutely gigantic.
"Will it win a prize at the state fair?" asked Cassie.
"We might even win a blue ribbon" said Daddy, "but first we have to get it to the fair."
The pumpkin is so very, very big that it's all Mommy and Daddy can do to roll it to the back of their truck, and they soon discover that there is no way they will be able to lift it into the load bed. Then Daddy gets an inspiration, hurries into the house, and returns with the ironing board, which he puts into service as an impromptu ramp. With Cassie and Baby Louie trying to help, they roll the giant pumpkin up and finally into the truck.
Triumphantly, Mommy gathers everyone in the truck bed to take a memorable picture. Marley has been watching all this activity with great excitement, and as the family smiles for the camera, he leaps into the truck's bed and scrambles on top of the pumpkin. The startled family watches as, seemingly in slow motion, the pumpkin starts to roll back down the ironing board, and keeps on going, with Marley, Daddy, Mommy, Cassie, and even Baby Louie in pursuit.
Alas, their chase is fruitless, and the pumpkin, predictably stops only when it rolls into a large tree, becoming a smashed pumpkin in the process.
But the Grogans are used to such canine-induced catastrophes. Mommy takes the scene in, and with a sigh, philosophizes:
"When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.
When life gives you a smashed pumpkin, make PIE!"
Together the Grogans pare and puree, mash and mix, and soon they have lots of pumpkin pies, one of which looks so picture-perfect that they enter it in the state fair pumpkin pie contest, with true happy-ending results:
"It was a blue ribbon pumpkin after all," Cassie said.
Marley: Marley and the Runaway Pumpkin (I Can Read Book 2) (Harper, 2010) is an engaging addition to this I-Can-Read (Level 2) series, the perfect Autumn/Halloween/Thanksgiving readaloud, a proven kid-pleaser, with a controlled vocabulary for early readers as well. John Grogan's best-selling memoir, Marley & Me tie-in: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, has delighted adult readers and movie-goers for years, and his original book has become the inspiration in the venerable Harper Row I-Can-Read series of easy readers about the rambunctious retriever puppy Marley.
Some of the other books in the Marley series include A Very Marley Christmas,Marley: Snow Dog Marley (I Can Read Book 2), and Marley: Strike Three, Marley! (I Can Read Book 2).