Thursday, August 03, 2006

review: Our Apple Tree

Our Apple Tree by Gorel Kristina Naslund. Translated by Laaren Brown. Illustrated by Kristina Digman. Roaring Brook, 2005; 2006 (1-59643-191-1) $6.95 pb

Two odd little children take us through the year of their apple tree: winter, when the children sleep curled up in its branches, but nuthatches are looking for little bugs under its bark; spring, when bees gather pollen from the apple blossoms; summer, when the apple tree grows its apples; and fall, the time for apple art and applesauce and apple pie. When the last leaves fall, the children once again curl up to sleep on the branches of the tree they love.

Originally published in Sweden, this is an appealing combination of fact and whimsy. (Oh, and in case you didn't know--the apple named Delicious? That part is pure whimsy.) It strikes me as being just on the edge of overly cute and some people will surely think it crossed over, but the small people who live in the tree, who sometimes shrink enough to curl up on an apple or rest inside a leaf, have an offbeat charm that works for me. (They remind me a bit of some of Tove Jansson's Moominvalley characters.) The translation into English is unusually readable and the unfamiliar qualities of the illustration--which often lead an American reader to an evaluation of Weird-Ass Picture Book--here just seem fresh and funny: I love the "apple party" featuring a moose, a deer, a pig in pearls, and a cow with a spring bouquet on her head. (2-5)


Blogger MotherReader bligged...

I saw "two odd little children" and then "originally published in Sweden" and thought, of course, "Weird-Ass Picture book." But you thought of that too, clever girl. "Two odd little children" is still making me smile.

8/04/2006 6:22 AM  

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