GO UP

Once Upon a Time… There Was a Pumpkin

There’s only one thing wrong with The Ugly Duckling tale… Not all the ducklings grow up to be white swans. What’s the moral of that story, anyway? Don’t judge a book by its cover? Some say it’s all about the inner beauty, but poor old duckling was too busy trying to survive to be showing off his inner beauty.

The Ugly Duckling art by Vilhelm Pedersen

Even as a kid, I had some trouble relating to the story. I had a bunch of silly questions. Like, what if it really was a duckling, that was just plain ugly, instead of coming from a misplaced swan egg? How would the story end in that case? Plus, there’s just too much running-away and hiding for an allegorical creature. And what’s wrong with being a duck compared to a swan? I’m sure Hans C. Andersen had better intentions, but I’ve always felt that this was a pretty elitist tale. The swan doesn’t do anything to change its destiny. He just ends up being a better specie, and it’s enough to give us all goosebumps. But in real life, ugly ducklings usually grow into ugly ducks. Just growing up won’t make them superior in any way…

If you have ever had any of such doubts, there’s a beautiful new story that will give you all the answers. I’m not delivering any spoilers, though, I’ll just say that it’s not as predictable as you might assume, and it’ll definitely turn those goosebumps into swanbumps;) Although this charming tale is universal, its seasonal, too –  Halloween-themed – so now is the perfect time to grab a copy of the book and enjoy the story of Pumpkin Humpkin.

Pumpkin Humpkin preview

The whole idea about Pumpkin Humpkin emerged in 2010, when the story was first presented as an interactive storytelling performance in London. In 2011, Pumpkin Humpkin puppet play took part in the Oxjam festival.  Pumpkin Humpkin was created by Iva Batusic, who wrote the text with the help of Clare Morris. Tammy Taylor illustrated the comic story. 

Pumpkin Humpkin play

The tale of Pumpkin Humpkin was published in a comic book anthology called Once Upon a Time by Gurukitty Studios. Canadian publisher Gurukitty collected 20 short comic tales from all over the world, all inspired by fairy and folk tales. I’m sure you’re already familiar with some, such as Godfather Death, Little Prince or Last Temptation of Hansel and Gretel . But you really can’t imagine what to expect until you get hold of a copy of this book. It’s an original idea of pouring those stories into a comic book, thus gently connecting the world of children and the world of adults. Comic book drawings remind us of a fact we often forget: lessons and messages from the so-called children’s stories are aimed at us, too. 

Some of my personal favorite ones are the stories about magical creatures who fall in love with humans – epic tale Lazon by Chev Kamie, and a story about a pissed-off fairy Maria Makiling by Aileen Balucanag and L.M. Silva. Those, and rhyming Pumpkin Humpkin, of course.

The ballad of a pumpkin who gets expelled from Halloween School for being different, is probably best written, the one story both adults and kids can relate to, tackling universal themes of fitting in and finding one’s identity. It’s truly adorable. And it fixes all those Ugly Duckling flaws:) 

The entire book is full of wonderful comic tales. It was the first Gurukitty anthology I had a chance to read, so I’m thinking of getting a copy of their Ghost Tales as well, to keep me entertained in the long winter evenings.

In case you’re wondering what does any of this have to do with the usual stuff you’ll find on this blog, the answer is hidden among the lines of the previous post.

And now, excuse me, I’ll be off pumpkin carving. This year, I’m picking the one pumpkin no one else wants. How about this one:

“…with a hump on his head
Not round like his friends
But oval instead!”

From Pumpkin Humpkin

…because I sure want to scare all the witches;)


Written by Iva Silla