Not surprisingly, given its name, Arata’s Pumpkin Farm in Half Moon Bay offers visitors a vast assortment of pumpkins and gourds in all shapes, sizes, and autumnal colors. In addition, children can ride ponies, pet farm animals, and ride on a miniature locomotive. Older children and adults can take a hayride or venture into the haunted barn. My favorite attraction, though, is the Minotaur’s Labyrinth Hay Maze. Each year a team designs a new puzzle constructed from bales of hay. The seven- to eight-foot-tall walls and two acres of twisting paths tested my husband and me on more than one occasion. One time, we crossed paths with the Minotaur and saw him award a kid with a golden pumpkin.
My husband’s and my first picture book, Sophia and Sinclair Go on an Adventure!, takes place one long summer day and night. Having read and enjoyed Katy Hudson’s picture book quartet, with each story featuring one animal character and a different season, I knew I wanted to write a new story set in autumn. As I brainstormed ideas, the hay maze at Arata’s Pumpkin Farm came to mind. Why not let Sophia and Sinclair venture inside and see what happens? Well, of course, like most hay maze visitors, they get lost—at least for a while. And when we lose our way, we sometimes lose our patience, our sense of humor, and our perspective.
Ultimately, though, best friends stick together, and overcoming obstacles only strengthens our friendship.
I admit, after the wide-open spaces—Charlotte’s pasture, the carnival, the river, and the beaver pond—of the first picture book, the confines of the hay maze in Sophia and Sinclair Get Lost! made me feel a bit claustrophobic. But the quirky new characters, parallel stories, and pluckiness of the protagonists, not to mention Marcy Tippmann’s charming, naturalistic illustrations, encouraged me to persist. I hope, like me, you relish this new adventure.
As for Arata’s Pumpkin Farm, owners Chris and Sunneva have graciously welcomed Sophia and Sinclair Get Lost! to join them this month. Limited copies of the picture book and fliers with all the necessary information are available at the ticket counter, the snack shop, and other areas of the farm.