UP CLOSE: Leslie Feore and ‘Antonia's Pumpkin’ - embracing Halloween's unique spirit

By Cesar Medina

24th Oct 2023 | Local Features

Leslie Feore, author of 'Antonia's Pumpkin' (credit: Leslie Feore/ Instagram).
Leslie Feore, author of 'Antonia's Pumpkin' (credit: Leslie Feore/ Instagram).

Halloween is fast approaching, and with it comes the tale of 'Antonia's Pumpkin,' a delightful children's book by Leslie Feore.  

Inspired partly by her granddaughter, Antonia, this charming story captures the essence of Halloween, while offering a unique perspective on the holiday's rich traditions. 

Leslie Feore, a longtime resident of West London, brings her childhood Halloween traditions from Chicago to the vibrant streets of London.  

Living in the urban setting of Ealing and Hanwell, Feore has embraced the multicultural tapestry of the city and found inspiration for her book in its diverse, vibrant community. 

Feore explained: "My ethos about Halloween is actually more of a spiritual one and something more traditional, as opposed to the commercialisation of Halloween."  

In the introduction of the book, Feore delves into the history of Halloween, tracing it back to its Celtic origins.  

She reveals how this ancient celebration, which used turnips with scary faces as lanterns, eventually transformed into the pumpkin-centred holiday we know today.  

Leslie brings her Halloween traditions from Chicago to Ealing (credit: David Menidrey/ Unsplash).

Feore's book carries a deeper message. She hopes to inspire readers to understand Halloween's positive ethos. 

As the holiday evolves and people dress up in costumes and celebrate, 'Antonia's Pumpkin' encourages embracing the spirit of uniqueness and self-expression. 

Feore said: "People are dressing up, celebrating and that is one of the messages of my book, to understand that it's an occasion to be positive and to not be afraid of things." 

The inception of 'Antonia's Pumpkin' was a unique one, stemming from a discarded jack-o'-lantern in her garden.  

Squirrels, taking pumpkin seeds from the discarded lantern, planted them in her plant pots leading to a profusion of pumpkins sprouting in her city garden the following spring.  

The sight of these pumpkin plants inspired Feore to write a story about growing the largest pumpkin for her granddaughter's first Halloween. 

An illustration from 'Antonia's Pumpkin' (credit: Leslie Feore/ Instagram).

She said: "There were pumpkins growing everywhere. And I thought, you know what? That's what it's going to be. 

"I'm going to write 'Antonia's Pumpkin' and it's going to be partly real, partly fantasy about growing the biggest pumpkin I can for her (Antonia's) first Halloween." 

'Antonia's Pumpkin' is not just a children's book; it's a story meant for both children and adults to enjoy says Feore.  

Feore said: "The story revolves around Grandma Amy, who doesn't always get it right, but there is also a lot of things that are out of our control, like the weather, the creatures and things we see. 

"But with faith, we hope that the little pumpkin sprout will make it all the way to Halloween." 

She added: "Another message is that everybody has a role to play, and everybody has a purpose." 

With a commitment to staying local, 'Antonia's Pumpkin' can be found at The Pitshanger Bookshop, Syon Park and online at Etsy.com.  

Feore loves the inclusivity and the sense of community that Halloween brings to her neighbourhood and sums up the essence of Halloween by saying, "You can be whatever you want to be, and that's the wonderful thing about it. 

"It's inclusive. It's a time to celebrate being unique, to be yourself." 

The author will also be storytelling at Syon Park on Wednesday and Thursday 25 and 26 October at 12 and 2pm and helping pumpkin carve at Osterley Park on the 28 and 29. 

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