In this original tale, told in English and in Cherokee, a lad plants an apple seed and then finds a way to deal with its impatience to grow up.
The child is dubbed “a Cherokee boy” once in the narrative, but he is otherwise a black-haired, dark-skinned Everychild in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers rather than stereotypical "tribal" garb. The young planter repeatedly encourages the seedling: “Look at you! Once you were just a seed, now you are an apple tree.” When the young tree nonetheless becomes sad and droopy (in the text, not the pictures) because it cannot make apples, he waits until it’s asleep (?) and surreptitiously ties a red apple to a branch. The next day the tree proudly offers the apple to the boy, who consumes it with relish. Years later, when the tree’s branches are bowing (at least in the text) from the weight of bumper crops of yellow apples, it opaquely proclaims “I will never forget my first apple, the one the Creator made red… / …just to show how much I am loved.” Good luck to adult readers asked to explain the significance of the color or how the boy comes to be equated with the Creator—or for that matter how deceiving the sapling is a nurturing act. The Cherokee translation runs along the bottom in script with, aside from an introductory chart, no phonetic hints.
It’s a better outcome for the tree than in a certain Shel Silverstein classic, but otherwise it’s a puzzlement, at least for general audiences. (Picture book. 6-8)