by Joan Bauer
Recommended Ages: 13+
Ellie is joined in her gourd-driven quest by a baseball crazy cousin named Richard, a hysterical dog named Spider, and her wise Nana, who knows a lot about working with the soil. But she has to be a fighter to raise a giant pumpkin, a quest that will push her emotional and physical limits. Win or lose, raising Max will lead Ellie to find healing, romance, and the respect of her community.
This 1992 book was the first novel by the author of Rules of the Road and Hope Was Here. Having read these books, I sense a pattern in Bauer's work: a knack for discovering emotional truths in a story about a teenager with one all-absorbing, mature-for-her-years passion. Bauer's other titles since this book include Best Foot Forward, Thwonk, Sticks, Backwater, Stand Tall, Peeled, Close to Famous, Almost Home, Tell Me, and most recently, Soar.