Pumpkins by Ken Robbins is a beautiful book. There are gorgeous pictures of pumpkin farms, and pictures showing the life cycle of pumpkins from seeds to decomposition. It also shows how big and small they can be and how different they can look. The farm pictures include a wagon like the one on the cover and a tractor in the background, which were some of the most excitedly exclaimed over pages in our house. It also devotes a few pages to Halloween and jack-o-lanterns. It’s the perfect book to read at the beginning of October just as pumpkins start showing up everywhere.

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We read it before visiting the Tanaka Farms pumpkin patch in Irvine, and it was a great preparation. At Tanaka Farms, you can pick pumpkins off the vine, and you can ride around the farm in a wagon attached to the back of a tractor.


The Tanaka Farms pumpkin patch, as seen from a wagon ride around the farm.

Unlike the book, it had a petting zoo, and it was the best petting zoo we’ve been to so far consisting of relatively sturdy, small animals that are unlikely to stress kids out and that kids are unlikely to stress out in return. There were no rabbits or chickens, for example, which was wonderful, and there were lots of pygmy goats and baby pygmy goats, and young normal goats and a few sheep and pot bellied piglets. There were three separate pens, each one a good, respectable petting zoo on its own, and one of the pens was getting a rest period while we were there to give the animals a chance to relax. The animals we visited with seemed pretty comfortable with the whole situation.

It also had a produce stand, old-fashioned games for older kids (bean-bag toss sorts of games with no flashing lights or loud noises) and a track surrounded by large potted plants where kids could ride gas-powered mini tractors around.

We’ll definitely be going back.

Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch
5380 University Drive
Irvine, CA 92612