Kerrie Mitchell
September 07, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The fiercely competitive gardeners of the Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Association entered 2006 with one goal — to cultivate the biggest pumpkin in the world, one that could also crack the fabled 1,500-pound mark. In Backyard Giants, Susan Warren meticulously documents all the growing-season drama, from freak storms to mysterious fungal outbreaks to suspected sabotage via weed-killers. She focuses much of her attention on a father-son team from Rhode Island, but their dialogue falls flat and neither man emerges as the compelling character her story needs to make it thrive. By the end, you feel like one of the passers-by who stop to gawk at the backyard behemoths — impressed with their size, but unsure what it means beyond the pumpkin patch. C+

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