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Here are my favorite picture books to share before visiting the pumpkin patch.

"MYSTERY VINE," by Cathryn Falwell, Greenwillow, $16.99

It's pumpkin-picking time!

From the seeds planted in spring, the children "watched them grow and pulled the weeds." During the summer, there were tomato plants with flowers, beans on poles and a "creeping Mystery Vine."

When cucumbers were ready for pickling, the children looked for clues to the Mystery Vine with its yellow flowers.

As the weather turns cold, there is a garden surprise: The Mystery Vine is growing pumpkins. Pumpkins for bread, pie and certainly jack-o-lanterns.

"Mystery Vine" is the perfect fall book, a transition to the harvest season for the youngest reader. The simple story is illustrated with clean, fresh collages to help tell the sequence of the mysterious vine. Falwell has also included recipes for roasting the seeds and pumpkin-apple bread, with several pages of family gardening ideas.

"PUMPKINS," by Ken Robbins, Holtzbrinck Publishers, $6.99

This is a photo essay of pumpkins growing throughout the season, including contests for the largest, heaviest one. The final pages show the seeds left on the ground "that will survive and make more pumpkins for the following years." Robbins' photographs are truly beautiful and make it interesting for the whole family to enjoy.

"HOW MANY SEEDS IN A PUMPKIN," by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Brian Karas, Schwartz, $14.99

Charlie, the smallest child in the first grade, is amazed that of the three pumpkins the teacher brings to class, the smallest has the most seeds. What an ego-builder for a tiny little guy! Cartoon-like illustrations add to the humor when the seeds are actually counted. Activities in this one encourage concept development of counting and number grouping.

e-mail: marilou.sorensen@att.net