From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—A father lovingly prepares a treat for his daughter in this charming story. The cumulative text begins with the apples ("These are the apples, juicy and red, that went in the pie, warm and sweet, that Papa baked") and then moves on to the tree that grew the fruit, its roots, the rain," the clouds, the sky, the sun, and finally the world ("blooming with life"). Bean's fine folk-style artwork complements the lyrical text. The illustrations were each drawn in black ink on three separate sheets of vellum, scanned into a computer, and recomposed and colored. They use only red, black, and yellow, and the simple palette and buff-colored pages make the images sharp and elegant. The pictures effectively and humorously move the story forward, depicting the activities of the characters and several tag-along farm animals as they pick the apples, prepare the pie, and head back to the tree for a picnic. While the text blossoms out to encompass the whole world, the illustrations focus on the homey setting and the affection shared by father and daughter, keeping the story grounded until its sweet conclusion. A delightful and engaging read.—Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH
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*Starred Review* The familiar cumulative tale "The House That Jack Built" receives a gentle, loving twist in this nostalgically illustrated story. The end is the beginning as a pigtailed girl introduces the apple pie "warm and sweet that Papa baked." Then moving backward, the girl runs from her ramshackle house out to the tree "crooked and strong," where shiny red apples are waiting to be picked. The roots, "deep and fine," feed the tree that grows the apples that go into the pie. Then the text becomes ever more expansive: rain waters the roots, clouds drop the rain, the sky carries the clouds, the sun lights the skyuntil, finally, the world, blooming with life, spins around the sun and causes the natural wonders that result in one special pie. The text is dear, and it's well matched by delightful illustrations. Bean uses the best of old and new in artwork that harkens back to the works of Lois Lenski, Robert McClosky, and especially Wanda Gag. With dun-colored backgrounds and black-and-gold line work (occasionally brightened with red), the intricately detailed art is reminiscent of the time when picture books were rarely full color. In a brief note, Bean explains how he works: extensive drawing, then scanning into his computer, where he recomposes and recolors the images. The almost wordless concluding spreads, which picture father and daughter sharing the pie with their animal friends, exude love. Cooper, Ilene