Primitive-looking cut-paper illustrations depict an apple’s travels from tree to kitchen to backpack to picnic and eventually into soil, where it takes root as a new seedling.
Run your fingers across this satisfyingly square book’s cover and feel the subtle, smooth outlines of a ripe apple and simple letters. You’ll immediately sense the solid, soothing storytelling at work inside, achieved through astute manipulations of paper. McClure’s masterful cut-paper pictures appear more chunky and primitive here than in other works (To Market, to Market, 2011, etc.), appropriate in a book about plant processes as old as the Earth. Solitary verbs centered on white left-hand pages definitively describe the apple’s journey. Their red, all-uppercase, hand-drawn block lettering compliments rustic black-and-white pictures that look a lot like whittled woodblock prints. Beginning readers can latch onto these firm words, point at their hefty letters and discern sounds and meanings. Older readers will appreciate McClure’s use of a velvety, Valentine red to highlight the apple; these isolated instances of color pull children into each leg of a small odyssey, making a little apple’s peregrinations seem deserving of acute attention. Backmatter includes “The Life Cycle of an Apple Tree” and “Composting,” described in simple language that manages to be both sophisticated and conversational. Four panels capturing the four seasons sit on the opposite page: a summation of an apple’s year in pictures and an assured ending.
This deconstructed lesson in plant regeneration, composting and life cycles will reach apple-eating readers of many ages. (Picture book. 3-8)