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The Apple Pie That Papa Baked Hardcover – July 24, 2007
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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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*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
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I would say this book is very similar to The House in the Night. Fans of that book would undoubtedly like this book too. (And vice versa.)
The story begins with a little girl wakening in her rustic farmhouse to the sound of a rooster's crowing and the happy sight of her father heading out to the orchard with his apple-picking ladder. Following him, the child catches up in time to spend the day together collecting apples, until the hungry pair return to share the making of a delicious juicy apple pie.
Thompson's lyric text echoes the format of the traditional "This is the house that Jack built...." story as it takes a sweeping view of the cycle of life which brings an apple pie to our table:
em>This is the world, blooming with life,
That spins with the sun, fiery and bright,
That lights the sky, wide and fair...</em>
The text celebrates the water cycle which "drops the rain, cool and fresh" to water the roots of the crooked but strong tree which bears the fruit which yields a treat for the eye and, warm and sweet, for the child, her father and us, too.
Jonathan Bean's 1940's-style illustrations, reminiscent of Helen Sewall's original illustrations for Wilder's "Little House" books, utilize a sepia and black palette and curving lines which evoke the cycles of the earth and sun perfectly. A perfect story for reading aloud at home (preferably while the pie bakes) or at school during those seasonal units on fall and apple-harvesting time.
Told in a cumulative format, a small girl discusses the various steps taken by her father to produce a pie. The first line is "This is the pie, warm and sweet, that Papa baked." The second line, "These are the apples, juicy and red, that went in the pie, warm and sweet, that Papa baked." And so on. As the story encompasses the tree that grew the apples, the roots the fed the tree, the rain that watered the roots, etc. we watch father and daughter pick the apples, make the pie, and attract the attention of most of the denizens on the farm. Soon Papa and daughter are high-tailing it through the farmyard, back to the apple tree, where the daughter points out that her father made the pie, "for me . . . and for you." Everyone then gets some pie and snuggles down for the night, satiated.
The fascinating thing about this story is that in spite of the fact that a cumulative form can only go backwards (you begin with the end product and then work yourself back to its proto-beginnings) Bean found a way to go forward in time visually. You may begin with the image of a pie, but then the book doubles back and you see Papa picking apples, baking the pie, and running about with his daughter. The words themselves, however, have become cosmic. They go so far as to present the very world itself ("blooming with life") and then pare it down and down and down until all you're left with is that single apple pie. So while Thompson's story grows larger and more universal with every consecutive line, Bean gets smaller and more personal. The combination makes for an eclectic bit of storytelling.
Kudos to Simon and Schuster for having the guts to produce a book with only three colors (yellow, black, and red). I don't know who the editor on this puppy was, but they must have fought mightily to bring to bear a book that not only references the past but updates history's techniques. As he mentions in a note at the front of the book, "Each illustration is made up of three separate drawings - done on separate sheets of vellum paper." That sounds properly archaic. The difference is that Bean then scans these images into his computer and then recomposes them into a stunning final product. Now if I were to waltz into a major publisher and say to then, "Have I got a three-color picture book idea for YOU!," I'd be laughed out the door (or, more likely, booted onto the street). We're living in an age where the general feeling is that the more fairy dust you sprinkle on a title, the better it'll sell. Granted, "The Apple Pie That Papa Baked" does have some shiny red foil apples on the cover, but a little foil never hurt nobody. As long as the sparkly contents of a book don't end up on my palms by the end of a read, I am content.
As I've mentioned before, there are only three colors in this entire book. A little black, a lot of yellow (a brownish-yellow, though, so don't get the wrong idea) and just a hint of red whenever an apple appears on a page. Bean credits Wanda Gag and Virginia Lee Burton as his influences and by gum if this book doesn't look like what would happen if you squeezed The Little House and Millions of Cats together in a vise. The story has a timeless quality to it. I think if Bean had snuck in an iPod on a table in the girl's house it would have destroyed every neuron in my cranium. By the way, I love that Papa isn't a close-shaven guy. Also, there's a sneaky little fox, a slippery shadow of a fellow, who remains on the fringes of the action for most of the book. Only when everyone's had their pie and a single piece sits cooling in the pan, then the little creature sneaks over to take a tentative sniff at the remaining bit of deliciousness. It's subtle, and likely to remain unnoticed on a first, second, and third read. I've a soft space in my heart for illustrators that work in these kinds of details, so kudos for the inclusion of the fox.
Everyone and their mother is going to be cooing, oohing, and aahing over the pictures in this story, and it seems a bit unfair to not credit Lauren Thompson quite as thoroughly. Her previous picture book, Polar Bear Night, always struck me as far stronger in its words than its images. I mean, Thompson's a master of the sparse phrase. She whittles down and hones her words so carefully that overly verbose people like me (note the word count on this review alone) are left, jaws-agape, staring in awe. Now, at last, Thompson has received an artist worthy of her turns of phrase. Cumulative tales, by definition, are tricky beasties. I once tried to read The Rose in My Garden by Arnold Lobel in a preschool storytime (hindsight is 20-20) and let us just say that I learned my lesson well. Cumulative tales of the This is the House that Jack Built variety are almost always tedious. Kids love repetition but adults tire easily. To keep us going you'd better have some pretty spiffy turns of the pen to keep us interested. Fortunately for us, Thompson has turns, and then some, to spare. She never uses too many syllables, preferring instead to keep her sentences short and sweet. Apples are always "juicy and red", roots are "deep and fine", and the sun is always "fiery and bright". It is, to be blunt, a satisfying read.
Caldecott worthy? Indeed. But I've a suspicion that this book has an even easier shot at appearing on the New York Times Best Illustrated List (a list that Thompson has already cropped up on once). If you want to buy a picture book for someone that feels as if it will remain in your family for years, passed down from generation to generation, eschew the glittery bits o' fluff on the marketplace today and grab a copy of "The Apple Pie That Papa Baked". It does everything right, nothing wrong, and is infinitely lovable. Can't recommend it enough.
SPECIAL NOTE: If you are lucky enough to have a copy of this book with a cover that has not been pasted to the book itself (as many libraries are wont to do) remove the outer layer. Should the covers of beloved copies of this book wear and tear and get lost in the shuffle of time, Mr. Bean has constructed a simply gorgeous book beneath the jacket. It's bright red with a black ink image of a pie on the front. The spine is black with thin red lines surrounding the title, and a thin black border appears on the front and back. Magnificent from inside to out.
Most recent customer reviews
I knew author Lauren Thompson (Little Quack), but did not know illustrator Jonathan Bean (,Mokie and Bik and Read more
This twist on "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly..." features a Papa who bakes an apple pie for his daughter, and all the things that...Read more