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Apples to Oregon: Being the (Slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and Children) Across the Plains Paperback – July 29, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4–In this original tall tale, Delicious describes her family's journey from Iowa to Oregon in the 1800s. Daddy loves the idea of going west but he can't bear to leave his apple trees behind. He constructs two special wagons, fills them with "good, wormy dirt," and packs in hundreds of plants and trees. "Apples, ho!" he cries, and off they go. When they reach the Platte River–"wider than Texas, thicker than Momma's muskrat stew"–Delicious helps her father build a raft to ferry the seedlings–and the family–across. Everyone makes it to the other side, just barely. Before long, a hailstorm hits, scattering bonnets, petticoats, and even Daddy's drawers. Other larger-than-life challenges await the family, but inventive Delicious always manages to save the day. Soon, they're all floating down "the mighty Columbia." They plant those trees in Oregon soil, and everyone lives happily ever after. An author's note explains that this story is based loosely on Henderson Luelling, a pioneer who really did transport plants and fruit trees to Oregon in 1847. Hopkinson's version, of course, is just pure fun and make-believe. Carpenter's oil paintings are filled with vivid shades that reflect the changing scenery. Amusing details abound, and the slightly exaggerated humor of the pictures is in perfect balance with the tone of the text. The plucky heroine–wearing a bright red dress, white pinafore, and confident smile–often takes center stage. An entertaining choice for storytimes or an amusing supplement to units on westward expansion.–Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
K-Gr. 3. The pair that created Fannie in the Kitchen (2001) offers another food-related picture book for youngsters. When Papa decides to move from Iowa to Oregon his biggest concern is not his family but his apples--and his peaches, plums, grapes, cherries, and pears! He constructs a dirt-filled wagon to transport his fruit saplings, while his family travels in a smaller cart. Along the way, they encounter the requisite Oregon Trail hardships, but luckily daughter Delicious is clever enough to help her family (and Papa's precious darlings) arrive safely at their new home. Based loosely on the life of Henderson Luelling, who founded Oregon's first nursery in 1847, Hopkinson's alliterative tall tale is rich in language that begs to be read out loud ("'Guard the grapes! Protect the peaches!' Daddy howled"), and Carpenter's colorful oil paintings add to the exaggerated fun. Some apple facts and a historical note are appended. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Delicious and her daddy are two of a kind. They both love their beautiful Iowan fruit orchard. And they'd give everything they have to preserve and protect those awesomely tasty trees. So when Delicious's daddy decides that the family should pull up stakes and head for Oregon, it's only natural that the trees should come along with. Trouble is, it's hard enough to get a family the size of Delicious's across the plains (there are eight or so children), let alone finicky fruit bearers. But her daddy's determined, so off go Delicious, her mother, father, and seven siblings to make it to Oregon. Along the way they ford a mighty river using only their feet, battle a mighty windstorm, are saved of thirst by finding water filled boots, and finally engage in combat with the sneaky low down Jack Frost himself. By the end, Oregon has its trees and Delicious has a new home to settle in.
Hopkinson writes in an easygoing drawl that doesn't try too hard or rely on an abundance of silly cliches. And the various adventures visited upon the clan are silly but never too frightening or woeful. The fact that Delicious's father seems to care more for his trees than his children is a bit off-putting. And I can definitely see various children reading this story and getting ticked at his callousness. But if you take it for what it's worth, the rest of the reading is easy going. Hopkinson even includes in her Author's Note some information on the man this tale was loosely based on. It may certain interest adults to know that as a result of 1847's Henderson Luelling, Oregon remains one of the finest fruit producers in the continental United States.
As for illustrator Nancy Carpenter, she's given the pictures here a nice feel. You jump in sympathy as you see the poor kids leap through the sand without their boots (and you can't help but curse their lazy father who is not only booted but riding a horse... some Pop he is!). You cringe as Jack Frost's hand reaches to get past clever Delicious, ever watchful at her post. The pictures here are a sweet compliment to a nice story.
I don't know if I can say that this is the best tall tale book out there. But it is nice to see how the hero in this particular case is an entire family and not just one single striking individual. As I've noted, I've some problems with Delicious's father's misplaced loyalties, but otherwise this is a nice enough book and should make a fun storytime of its own. For anyone who's ever wanted to interest their very young offspring in the Oregon Trail, this might be a great way to spark interest at an early age.
Unlike the game, there's no dysentery, crooked traders, stampeding animals, or cranky settlers. Instead, a plucky family travels from Iowa to Oregon with a gigantic wagon holding a holding a whole orchard of fruit trees: Apples, plums, cherries, pears, and peaches. The book is more enjoyable than I expected, given its resemblance to the game, mostly because of the colorful girl, "Delicious," who narrates the story, and the sometimes silly obsession of her fruit-minded father. When "Delicious" (at least her father didn't name her "Gravenstein") alerts us "Daddy was ready for the most daring adventure in the history of fruit," you know you're in for a clever and exciting tall tale.
On the way to Oregon, the family encounters nasty skeptical fellow travelers, weather changes, and natural obstacles. They build a raft and start paddling the Platte River, the "muddy drink started to pull us down":
"'The peaches are plummeting!' my sisters shouted."
"'The plums are plunging,' boomed my brother."
"'Don't let my babies go belly-up!" howled Daddy.
Apparently, Daddy's has unbounded concern for the apples of his eye...and he also loves his kids. Delicious, who knows that children raised on apples are "mighty strong" (there's lots of "Western" dialect festooning these pages), gets her sibs to kick off their shoes and kick their feet against the Platte. Later, a windstorm strikes, half-denuding the family (sure to get some laughs from the younger set), and eliciting another cry from Daddy (always in big, bold font):
"Guard the grapes! Protect the peaches!"
The persistent, albeit slightly goofy Daddy, is shown on a great two-page spread resembling the Disneyland diorama of the Grand Canyon. The family is hauling the wagon up about a 50 degree incline, an impossible task, of course, while the unvanquished Daddy announces, "just a hundred miles to go." In one of many colorful illustrations, Delicious-looking more and more like a young pioneer woman, fights a wispy Jack Frost with a bonfire and a blanket. Very soon, "that low-down scoundrel was hightailing it out of there, heading straight for Walla, Washington. Delicious stands tall and proud. The illustrations slightly recall those of Patricia Polacco with their emphasis on people's faces and long exaggerated lines, although they're not quite as loopy and personal as Polacco's.
The books concludes with a successful orchard planting in Oregon, just as in the true story of the parents and their eight children who brought the first apple trees from Iowa to Oregon in 1847. Delicious, easily the most appealing and emotionally satisfying character in the book is last seen high up in an apple tree, munching away and pondering the Gold Rush that that began shortly after their trip. All those fruit trees, she says "made us richer than any prospector. We were happier, too. After all, apples taste a whole lot better than gold."
This story features Ma and Pa, their eldest daughter, Delicious, and a whole host of little ones. It amused me that the family was more concerned with the plants getting water rather than themselves. Read how they managed to get across the Platte River only to then find themselves in a big storm trying to protect the trees with their clothes - "petticoats, trousers, hats - even Daddy's drawers!"
Great book! Happy reading!
Tall tales are a great way to introduce exaggeration and humor in literature, and is a genre that pre-schoolers and school-age children tend to appreciate.