Pumpkin Moonshine

This lovely little slice of life was shared on the Farmgirl Connection chatroom last year by our Farmgirl Sister of the Year, Winnie (Red Tractor Girl), and I revisited it when one of the “milk-cow moms” over on my Heritage Jersey Organization chatroom named her most recent calf Pumpkin Moonshine. (If you’re a cow mom or dream of one day having a backyard milk cow, be sure to visit the HJO chatroom.)

Winnie’s post was:  “I am back from my visit up to Virginia and North Carolina to see my sisters and daughter. We had wonderful crisp fall weather, gathered apples, wore warm clothes, and shivered on mountaintops. It was wonderful in every way! So today, I am getting caught up here at home and started to get ready for Halloween. Do you all remember Tasha Tudor’s delightful children’s Halloween story called Pumpkin Moonshine? I have a paperback copy, and it has been one of my favorites since I found it when my children were little.” Pumpkin-Moonshine Moonshine? No, silly—not THAT kind of moonshine!

THIS kind of moonshine …

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Photo by huk_flickr via Wikimedia Commons

… more commonly known as a jack-o’-lantern. In the utterly charming Pumpkin Moonshine, little Sylvie Ann climbs to Grandpawp’s cornfield atop a high hill and finds the biggest, finest pumpkin in the field.

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Photo by vastateparksstaff via Wikimedia Commons

She is determined to transform it into a “fierce and horrid” pumpkin moonshine for Halloween. But it is much to large to carry, so how will she get it home? Why … she’ll roll it, of course! Ker thumpity, bumpity, thump! Watch out, goats!

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Photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos via Wikimedia Commons

Can Sylvie catch the pumpkin before it bowls over the goats, frightens the hens, enrages the geese, and bumps into Mr. Hemmelskamp, who is carrying a pail full of whitewash?

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Images courtesy of Pen Pals and Picture Books

Well now, you’ll just have to read the book to find out. But I’ll tell you that one of my favorite parts of the book is the end—don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler—when Sylvie saves her pumpkin’s seeds for next year. How farmgirl is that? This fall, you might want to take the “pumpkin moonshine” theme a step further by carving a gorgeous, ghostly white Moonshine (or Valenciano or Polar Bear) pumpkin for Halloween. You can save your seeds after scooping or buy some for next year at ReimerSeeds.com.

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Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t think that the pumpkin in the photo above is actually white, but who knows? And it was just too good not to share! P.S. Pumpkin Moonshine, Tasha Tudor’s first book, was originally published in 1938 as a calico-bound first edition (because Tasha submitted her manuscript to Oxford University Press in a quaint wrapping of calico fabric).

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Photo courtesy of Bauman Rare Books

You can buy this rare first edition at Bauman Rare Books for a mere $1,200. Thankfully, Pumpkin Moonshine is once again in print and available for an extremely reasonable price on Amazon.com. I say “extremely reasonable” in light of prices tagged to Tasha’s early works (take a peek at this coveted page from her first rendering of Pumpkin Moonshine, appraised by Antiques Roadshow at a value of $8,000 to $10,000).

P.P.S. You can read more about Tasha Tudor in the “Sister Act” April/May 2011 issue of MaryJanesFarm, still available in our “Back Issues Bundle #6.” tasha-tudor-mag

Leave a comment 6 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I recently got to visit the Tasha Tudor Museum which is outside Brattleboro, Vt. When you enter the museum, you are greeted by volunteers wearing Tasha’s signature pinafore apron and invited for a cup of tea by the old wood stove. Since it was Fall, tea was served with pumpkin napkins and spice cookie as Tasha would have expected for the season. It was delightful to learn more about her from people who have dedicated their lives to keeping her contributions available for generations to come. And being October, there were Pumpkin Moonshines peaking about!

    I never have seen her original copy of the book and fascinated to learn it was bound in a gingham fabric. Tasha Tudor has been a long time interest of mine. Her art has always spoken to my heart and I am so glad that we have her books available at libraries and bookstores everywhere. Did you know that the Japanese are huge fans of Tasha? You can read about it more if you google in Tasha Tudor Museum and go to that link.

    This year’s Pumpkin Moonshine was just purchased at the store and sitting on my porch. I am looking froward to making another grinning face to welcome Trick or Treaters to my door!!

  2. Tasha Tudor was my neighbor when I lived in Vermont in the early 70’s. I knew her but did not know she was a famous illustrator and author. She was a delightfully eccentric lady who always wore period garb and did everything by hand on her farm.She as a ball of energy and the most creative, imaginative person I have ever met, in such a childlike way. I have begun collecting her books and only wish I had them then when she could have signed them for me. ” Pumpkin Moonshine” is on my wishlist. Another book which is kept out year round is ” A Time to Keep- Tasha Tudor’s Book of Holidays “. I takes you through the year depicting her family’s own unique way of celebrating the holidays- replete with corgis of course!

    • Winnie Nielsen says:

      Wow Lisa!! How very fortunate you were to know Tasha !! I think she led a very quiet ordinary life and was not interested in being in the limelight. Pumpkin Moonshine is available in paperback at most chain bookstores this time of year, but maybe you are looking for a hardback copy with more age for your collection.

      • Winnie you are so right, Tasha had no interest in notoriety of any sort, she just wanted to live simply ( and in the past really ) and succeeded at that, but her son made her famous. He’s the one with the balding head in the drawings that depict her family in various books. He kept her in the limelight and then her fans did the rest. I didn’t really know her very well, only a few short visits ,but memorable ones. I didn’t have a car so relied on others visiting her to come along. I remember her clothing the best, always authentic, real antique dresses , hats and so on, and she wore them so naturally.

  3. Thank you for linking to our blog post about our experiment in growing white pumpkins. I suspect that the pumpkin in the photo above is indeed a white heirloom variety. I did save the seeds from some of the white ones we grew last year and only the ones from the heirloom were white this year. The others reverted back to orange. I am a fan of Tasha Tudor and as a retired teacher, I have a large collection of autumn books, but I do not have “Pumpkin Moonshine!” Thanks to your article, I will remedy that soon!

  4. Jo Wray says:

    I did see some of Tasha Tudor’s original drawings at the folk art museum in Williamsburg, Va many years
    ago. They were so dainty. There was quite a display of her toys and books. I love “Pumpkin Moonshine”.
    Children did too. In Ticonderoga NY, the moon is so delightful shining over Lake George . It is such an amazing sight. I’ve never been to her museum in Vt. Looking forward to many happy pumpkin moonshine nights!

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