Friday, October 10, 2008

Books About Apples

We spent several hours yesterday picking apples at the beautiful Pennings Orchard in Warwick, NY. The weather was perfect, the view of the fall foliage was stunning, and the apples were crisply scrumptious. I wish I could share some of my apple pie with you, but that doesn't really work via blog. Instead, I've included a photo of some of our massive bag of apples and a selection of a few of our favorite apple books. There are dozens of apple books to choose from. Apples show up frequently in preschool and primary grade science lessons as well as in library story hours, so we've been exposed to a great number of apple picture books over the last few years .The Apple Pie Tree, written by Zoe Hall and illustrated by Shari Halpern, is ideal for children from preschool to grade two. Its text and paint and paper collage illustrations follow two siblings following the cycle of an apple tree over the course of a year. The book includes the contributions of bees and weather, the family of robins who nest in the tree, and a delicious apple pie at the end. Nancy Elizabeth Wallace's Apple, Apples, Apples is another charmingly illustrated picture book introducing young children to the science of apples. Wallace's Leave! Leaves! Leaves! and Pumpkin Day are worth checking out during the fall as well. For slightly older children, I highly recommend How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman. In it, a young baker considers how to gather up ingredients for an apple pie if the market is closed. It will involve taking various modes of transportation to get to Italy for the semolina wheat, Sri Lanka for cinnamon, Vermont for apples, Jamaica for sugar cane and so on. It is a lovely combination of geography and whimsy that shows readers that our food doesn't just magically appear, shrink wrapped in plastic, in our grocery store. (As you might remember from my Aug. 4 post "Of Books and Blueberries," this is an issue for me.)
For second through fifth graders, here's a book that we use throughout the year, not just during apple season, in my house. Apple Fractions by Jerry Pallotta and illustrated by Rob Bolster enlists adorable elves to divide different types of apples into fractions. Some interesting apple facts are presented along with a math lesson in fractions. For example, on two facing pages showing the elves dividing up a Gala apple into five equal parts, using miniature wooden tools, the text treads, "A Gala is a medium-sized apple. It is about the size of your fist. The largest apples are as big as grapefruits. The smallest are the size of cherries. This Gala is cut into five equal pieces. Each piece is one-fifth. One fifth plus four-fifths equals five-fifths. When the numbers above and below the line are the same, the fraction equals one whole."
Finally, the award for best children's book with apple in the title goes to Deborah Hopkinson's 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. And don't forget that there are literally dozens of books at all levels from easy reader to young adult about Johnny Appleseed. How about them apples?

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