- Caroline Parr
Lauren Thompson’s story begins, “This is the pie, warm and sweet, that Papa baked.” But how did Papa make the pie? Start with apples, “juicy and red,” then the tree, “crooked and strong,” and so on until we come to “the world, blooming with life, that spins with the sun, fiery and bright…”
Perfect for this time of year, The Apple Pie That Papa Baked is a rollicking picture book illustrated by Jonathan Bean in tones of cream, sepia, black and red, evoking classic illustrations by Virginia Lee Burton and Wanda Gag.
Thompson’s exuberant text is well matched by Bean’s rounded shapes and beautifully paced page design. In a fitting end to the circular tale, the last page shows the father and his little girl dozing under the apple tree, two forks resting on an empty plate as a fox creeps up to the remains of the pie—and a crescent moon smiling down on the scene.
Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You A Pie is Robbin Gourley’s recreation of the rural childhood of noted Southern cook Edna Lewis. Edna and her family first gather wild strawberries, then move on as the seasons progress to enjoying wild greens, sassafras tea, honey, cherries, blackberries, peaches, tomatoes, melons, corn, beans and grapes. Each harvest comes with its own traditional rhyme or saying, so when Edna harvests apples, she sings, “Don’t ask me no questions,/ an’ I won’t tell you no lies./ But bring me some apples,/ an’ I’ll make you some pies…”
The lusciously colored illustrations combined with the vivid descriptions of fresh, seasonal food make this a book you won’t want to read on an empty stomach—but if you do, Gourley includes traditional recipes for apple crisp, pecan drops, and corn pudding. Yum!
The Golden Delicious is one of the most common apples in the grocery store, but it was once as rare and precious as a jewel, as Anna Egan Smucker explains in Golden Delicious, A Cinderella Apple Story.
At the turn of the last century, farmers would send their best apples to Stark Brothers Nurseries in Missouri, hoping that their varieties would be good enough for the Starks to propagate and sell. One day, the Starks tasted the most fragrant, crisp apple they’d ever eaten. Grown by chance on a West Virginia farm, the golden apple was so delicious that—well, that it got its name, and made apple history. The precious original tree, protected by a fence, survived until the late 1950s, producing golden apples for most of its life.
In Elisa Kleven’s picture book, The Apple Doll, Lizzy takes along Susannah, an apple doll made from her favorite backyard tree, to comfort herself on the first day of school. As the weeks go by, and the doll starts to go soft, Lizzy comes up with a plan to preserve her all year long. She and her mother soak the peeled apple in lemon juice, then let it dry for a week or two. Newly dressed with a pipe cleaner body and blue bead eyes, Susannah becomes the hit of the classroom, and Lizzy shows her classmates how to make their own dried-apple dolls. Kids can follow the easy directions in the back of the book for making their own dolls.