Introduction to this Stone Soup Writing and Art Activity
“The Adventures of Pumpkin and Seegartus” is about a friendship between two animals–a pony, Pumpkin, and a cat, Seegartus–both favorite pets of Mary. The author, Nicole Schmidt, begins her story with the birth of Pumpkin and his capture from a herd of semi-wild horses, and she ends it with an adventure that clearly establishes the depth of Pumpkin and Seegartus’ friendship for each other.
“The Adventures of Pumpkin and Seegartus” is illustrated by the author, and the original is bound into a book. The pictures and the text are a unit; together they tell the story.
It is always exciting to see a work illustrated by the author. Who better knows the characters and their lives than the author? And what better time to make illustrations for your story than at the time of creation, when the characters and their lives are freshest in your mind?
Project: Write and Illustrate a Story Based on Something That Has Happened in Your Own Life
You could write about a pet, about a vacation, about your school year, about camp, about a brother or sister, or about anything. Like the author of “The Adventures of Pumpkin and Seegartus,” you will want to give your work a clear beginning and end.
Tell your story in both words and drawings. Your word picture and your drawing picture should complement each other. The pictures might, in fact, fill in information that is lacking in the text and make your story more complete. For instance, in words you might say something very general about a character. It might be through the illustration that you more fully show what the character looks like and how he or she dresses.
The Adventures of Pumpkin and Seegartus
By Nicole Schmidt, 9, West Simsbury, Connecticut
Illustrated by the author
From the March/April 1985 issue of Stone Soup
Early one morning in the Ozarks of Missouri, on May 1, 1965, a Shetland pony was born in an almost wild herd of ponies that were running on a cattle farm. The mother’s name was Jenny and the father stallion’s name was Prince. No one was around. He was just born under a crabapple tree. (It was a hard day for the mother and foal because the curious ponies in the herd kept coming up and trying to sniff the new member.) Later that day, they slowly made their way back to the rest of the herd of Shetlands.
As the herd grazed, they covered a great distance. Finally, they came to a gate that had been accidentally left open and passed through it to the back pasture of the next farm. Pretty soon they had made their way up to the barnyard. A little girl came out of the farmhouse and spotted the colt running by its mother’s side.
The little girl, whose name was Mary, ran back into the house and said, “Ma, you promised me a pony. You did, you did!”
In a soft voice, Ma said, “What pony, Darling?”
“The pony that’s outside. A new one, running by its mother’s side.”
“It must have been born in the night,” said Ma. “I’ll take a look outside. Oh, those ponies are Mr. Blacker’s, the man who lives on the north side of town. I’ll ask him if he wants to sell it. I’ll ask the neighbors down the road how to get in touch with him. Meanwhile, stay away from them,” the mother warned, as she started down the road to the neighbors’. “The stallion might attack you. They’re wild and we don’t know what they might do.”
The mother walked down the road to the neighbors’. The ponies still ran and ate grass.
The mother came back and said, “Mr. Blacker said he didn’t know that a pony was born, but we may have him if we can catch him. That’s why our neighbor came with his lasso.”
The neighbor went outdoors and whisked his lasso around and around. It took him four or five tries to get them. The neighbor was the biggest man Mary had ever seen. He and his children led the mother and colt into the smaller pasture. The colt and its mother would have to stay there, separated from the rest of the herd, until the colt was old enough to be weaned.
Finally, the day came in late summer when the mother could leave her colt. Mary named the colt Pumpkin because his coat was a lovely pumpkin orange.
Mary’s father said, “I think we should put the colt in the empty stallion stall tonight because this is the first night the mother and colt are separated, and besides, it looks like it’s going to rain tonight.” Mary and her father put the colt in the stall and tended the rest of the animals. Mary and her father went back to the house.
It started raining and big winds came up, so big that the trees and all things were blowing around.
Father said, “It’s a tornado! We must all go to the cellar quickly!”
Just as they were running to the stairs, the windows of the front side of the house blew in. The tornado had passed before they had reached the cellar.
They went outside to see what damage had been done. A big tree had been blown over right in front of their house. All the plums had been blown off the plum tree. Trees had fallen over on top of the house and all the apple trees in the orchard had blown over.
The board fence around the pasture had blown over, too. They looked at the barn. It had blown right in. All of the family ran over to it.
The stallion’s stall didn’t blow in because it was built so strong. Pumpkin was scared but all right. They had to use a crowbar to open the stall door.
The colt had wonderful days on the farm. Pumpkin spent most of his time outside in the backyard with Mary, but sometimes this led to problems.
One day Mary’s mother came out of the house and found that Pumpkin had pulled the laundry off the line, and when she looked at Pumpkin, she swore that he was laughing at her.
Another one of Pumpkin’s tricks really fooled the family. Every day the chickens’ food was disappearing. Early every morning, Mary and her mother would feed the chickens and come back around ten-thirty A.M. to get the eggs. The food would always be gone. One day, right after they fed the chickens, they decided to hide and watch to see if they could find out what was eating the chickens’ food. Pretty soon, they saw Pumpkin coming up from the back pasture. He jumped right over the fence, as if it weren’t even there at all. Then he trotted to the chicken’s house, stepped up inside and ate all the chickens’ food. Then he trotted right back and jumped over the fence again.
“I guess we need some higher fencing,” said Mary’s mother.
One day, near Thanksgiving, Mary’s father came home and said, “I have a surprise for you from the S.P.C.A.” He lifted a box out of the car and handed it to Mary.
Mary opened it and said, out loud, “A kitten!”
Mary’s father said, “I thought it was about time we got rid of those rotten mice.” The kitten was white with black on his forehead.
It took Mary a long time to think of an unusual name, but she finally decided on Seegartus.
Seegartus and Pumpkin became the very best of friends. Every day, Seegartus would walk the fence railing until he found a post near where Pumpkin was grazing. He would perch himself there. Pretty soon Pumpkin would come over and they would rub noses in the strangest way.
One day some people came to visit Mary’s parents and brought their big German shepherd. Seegartus was sniffing around the barnyard and Pumpkin was having a sunning nap by the barn door.
The big dog spotted Seegartus and took off after him. While Mary, her parents and the company were talking in the house, the shepherd was chasing Seegartus all over the barnyard. Seegartus couldn’t find a way to get away from that big dog. Suddenly, Pumpkin picked up his head and charged after the shepherd.
Mary, her parents and the company came out the back door just in time to see Pumpkin chase after the fleeing shepherd. The shepherd came running up to his master.
“Boy, that’s a mean little colt you have there,” the company said. Mary didn’t say anything because she knew Pumpkin was the most lovable and gentle pony she had ever seen.
Seegartus wasn’t saying anything, either. He was sitting on the fence post with his tail in the air, rubbing noses with his best friend.