I wasn’t sure if we needed to read another book on Johnny Appleseed. But I was interested in reading something by Esme Raji Codell, author of one of my favorite children’s literature reference books. I was also attracted by the beauty of the cover.
I’m still not sure if another book about Johnny Appleseed is truly needed but this is a lovely addition regardless. The familiar details of John Chapman’s (Johnny Appleseed) life are all here but Codell organizes the details into themes that reflect lessons we can learn from his life more than on his biography. I liked this approach as it gave new life to the myth. Codell starts by asking why we even remember Chapman’s story.
He never drove a car
or sent a basketball flying through a hoop.
He never acted in front of a camera.
He never wore a medal.
He grew apples, and offered them to the pioneers heading west.
But wait. So what?
A farmer. Why should we remember him
today, more than two hundred years later,
and call him a hero?
Lynn Rae Perkins’ illustrations are primarily luminous detailed paintings. However, there are also some charming surprises included that add interest. One page spread is an old-fashioned needlepoint sampler stitched by Perkins. Another invokes a folk-art style wooden carving. Another uses a stamped burlap sack. All together, they work beautifully together.
Nonfiction Monday is hosted today (serendipitously) at Apples With Many Seeds.