Review of the Day: The Apple Pie that Papa Baked (Part Two)
(CONTINUED FROM PART ONE)
Everyone and their mother is going to be cooing, oohing, and aahing over the pictures in this story, and it seems a bit unfair to not credit Lauren Thompson quite as thoroughly. Her previous picture book, Polar Bear Night, always struck me as far stronger in its words than its images. I mean, Thompson’s a master of the sparse phrase. She whittles down and hones her words so carefully that overly verbose people like me (note the word count on this review alone) are left, jaws-agape, staring in awe. Now, at last, Thompson has received an artist worthy of her turns of phrase. Cumulative tales, by definition, are tricky beasties. I once tried to read The Rose in My Garden by Arnold Lobel in a preschool storytime (hindsight is 20-20) and let us just say that I learned my lesson well. Cumulative tales of the This is the House that Jack Built variety are almost always tedious. Kids love repetition but adults tire easily. To keep us going you’d better have some pretty spiffy turns of the pen to keep us interested. Fortunately for us, Thompson has turns, and then some, to spare. She never uses too many syllables, preferring instead to keep her sentences short and sweet. Apples are always "juicy and red", roots are "deep and fine", and the sun is always "fiery and bright". It is, to be blunt, a satisfying read.
Caldecott worthy? Indeed. But I’ve a suspicion that this book has an even easier shot at appearing on the New York Times Best Illustrated List (a list that Thompson has already cropped up on once). If you want to buy a picture book for someone that feels as if it will remain in your family for years, passed down from generation to generation, eschew the glittery bits o’ fluff on the marketplace today and grab a copy of "The Apple Pie that Papa Baked". It does everything right, nothing wrong, and is infinitely lovable. Can’t recommend it enough.
SPECIAL NOTE: If you are lucky enough to have a copy of this book with a cover that has not been pasted to the book itself (as many libraries are wont to do) remove the outer layer. Should the covers of beloved copies of this book wear and tear and get lost in the shuffle of time, Mr. Bean has constructed a simply gorgeous book beneath the jacket. It’s bright red with a black ink image of a pie on the front. The spine is black with thin red lines surrounding the title, and a thin black border appears on the front and back. Magnificent from inside to out.
Filed under: Reviews
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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