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It doesn’t start off all that badly. On Halloween night a triumphant little pumpkin merrily grins at the reader. “Here I stand, bright with light, proud and round. Tonight is my glory night. Call me Jack.” Its hubris doesn’t last long. The first unwelcome visitor is a chomping chewing mouse. The next a squirrel. Then come the slugs, a fly, and most dramatically the black rot. Once the rot’s set in it’s just a question of how quickly Jack will disintegrate. Schwartz fills his story with plenty of useful information, like the fact that low temperatures don’t slow most of the fungi that eat pumpkins. Or the strange nature of the plasmodium and its odd ways. By the end we see how life begins anew, thanks in large part to the creatures that help with decomposition. A glossary of terms and useful “Classroom Investigations” are found at the end of the book.
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