Friday, November 11, 2016

Book Review: What's So Terrible About Swallowing an Apple Seed

Title: What’s So Terrible about Swallowing an Apple Seed?

Authors: Harriet Lerner and Susan Goldhor

Harriet Lerner's web site:

Date: 1996

Publisher: Harper Collins

ISBN: 0-06-024524-7

Length: pages not numbered; I counted 24 pages of picture-book text

Illustrations: full-color paintings by Catharine O’Neill

Quote: “Rosie…tried to imagine what she would look like with apple tree branches growing out of her ears.”

Rosie’s sister Katie tells Rosie the old joke about how seeds take root and grow inside people who carelessly swallow them. Rosie has a wild imagination that visualizes both good and bad effects of having a tree growing inside her. When Katie admits that it’s just an old traditional lie, “inside she was glad that the lie was finally over,” and Rosie says, “But I was starting to like my apple tree.” So they make up stories about this fantasy happily ever after.

This psychologically correct story comes with an explanation of how parents are meant to use it to “talk about the joys and hazards of straying from the truth” on the back.

Er, um…why do I suspect that anybody who’s ever enjoyed this picture book has enjoyed it for the pictures? They are nice—Rosie’s hair morphs from red to yellow and back in different pictures, but the publisher’s blurb nailed it with “delightfully playful.” Tree-Rosie’s descent down an elegant spiral staircase, and her problem boarding the school bus, are especially memorable.

What’s So Terrible is recommended to anyone who likes whimsical watercolor paintings and goofy fantasizing. That category includes most children at some point before or during the year they learn how to read. I wouldn’t expect it to displace any of the Beatrix Potter or Dr. Seuss books as a child’s favorites, but it’s a good book to offer for beginning readers to practice quiet individual reading.

You're likely to find cheaper prices online. If you buy it from either address at the very bottom of the screen, however, it'll be a Fair Trade Book: $5 per copy + $5 per package (several other books could fit in the package with this skinny one) + $1 per online payment, from which we'll send $1 to Lerner or a charity of her choice.