OWASCO — Pumpkins made to look like The Lorax, Junie B. Jones, Captain Underpants and other childhood literature favorites were clustered around the library of Owasco Elementary School Tuesday.

The winners of a pumpkin decorating contest, in which each student who entered made their pumpkin look like a character or characters from their favorite book, were announced. A winner from each grade, plus four honorable mentions, were acknowledged on Halloween morning.

A total of 86 pumpkins or pumpkin gourds sat in the library. Students had to work on their entries at home and could receive help from family.

Because of Halloween, students could wear their costumes. Logan Polocvich donned the costume and shield of Captain America and honorable mention winner Luke Siracusa, dressed as a phantom, came to the library in their garb. The pumpkin-filled room was a stop in the school's Halloween parade later that day.

Some entries featured more than just paint. For example, Polocvich's entry depicting "Sesame Street" character Oscar the Grouch — specifically from the book "Oscar's Silly ABCs" — featured items such as his trashcan and lid. An entry of Clifford the Big Red Dog included a doghouse.

Librarian Victoria Calarco said students could pick characters from books based on pre-existing materials, such as a book from the "Pokemon" franchise, so a pumpkin showed the flagship character, Pikachu. Calarco said the contest was meant to help the children connect to reading. She said she was thoroughly impressed by the students' work.

"It's remarkable to see how much time you could tell they put into it," Calarco said.

Mia Holmes, one of the honorable mention winners, worked with her mom, Lisa Holmes, on a pumpkin depicting the Old Lady character from the book "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves!" The duo handled different duties, such as Mia supplying the leaves and Lisa using hot glue to stick "hair" to the entry's top.

Calarco — who co-created the contest — said she plans to hold it for as long as she has her position.

"If it brings a book and a family together, then why not?" Calarco said.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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Education Reporter