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WHAT'S SO TERRIBLE ABOUT SWALLOWING AN APPLE SEED? by Harriet Lerner

WHAT'S SO TERRIBLE ABOUT SWALLOWING AN APPLE SEED?

By Harriet Lerner (Author) , Susan Goldhor (Author) , Catharine O'Neill (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1996
ISBN: 0-06-024523-9
Publisher: HarperCollins

 O'Neill's sunny illustrations abet Lerner and Goldhor's first children's book but can't hoist it aloft. Katie teases her little sister, Rosie, about the consequences of accidentally swallowing an apple seed: A tree will shortly take root in Rosie's stomach. Katie assures her the branches will grow out of her ears and get all the sunshine they need. Swearing the younger girl to secrecy, she carries the deception a step further by examining Katie's ears at night for incipient budding. Even when Rosie is sad and can't sleep, a guilt-stricken Katie, afraid to tell the truth, comes up with more elaborations on the lie to cheer her sister up. When Rosie reveals her secret to a friend, she learns the truth and confronts Katie, who blames the victim (``I can't help it if you believe everything I say!'') but is secretly relieved. Determinedly lighthearted in telling and pictures, the book feels superficial: Katie gets off the hook without any scrutiny of what is really a cruel and prolonged prank. For a sharper observance of truth and consequences, there's the Caldecott-winning classic by Evaline Ness, Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine. (Picture book. 4-8)