Monday, June 30, 2008
I was fortunate enough to read an advance review copy of Johnny Appleseed written by the incomparable Jane Yolen, illustrated by the very talented Jim Burke, and published by Harper Collins. It was one of the many ARCs that Sally, the owner of Cover to Cover, allowed us to preview during the 48 Hour Challenge. I absolutely fell in love with this book!!
Most of us are familiar with the legend of Johnny Appleseed, but Jane Yolen digs deeper, and gives a text that is much more than just the legend. She divides his life into small segments, each segment taking up a 2 page spread. Each segment begins with a couple of lines from what I imagine is a song about the legend of Johnny Appleseed, about 4 - 5 lines. Then, using a lovely verse format, Yolen tells the actual history of what was happening to John Chapman during that time frame -- this part of the page is called "The History". Finally, at the bottom of the page, there is "The Fact" -- this is more true information, written as factual sentences.
I learned so much about John Chapman by reading Yolen's text. I was amazed at how little I knew about him, other than his legend. Yolen's details are quite wonderful! I have to imagine that much research went into writing this book. She points out that the true facts about Johnny Appleseed are even more impressive than the legend. After reading her book, I would have to agree with that statement. And Jim Burke's illustrations are the icing on the cake -- truly fabulous!
This book, Johnny Appleseed, would be a great find for many 4th grade teachers I know, as they teach about folk heroes in Ohio. It would be a nice learning opportunity to share with students the difference between what's real and what's legend. For me, the book will have a different purpose -- it is yet another great mentor text to share with my 5th grade students when studying literary nonfiction.
Johnny Appleseed should be in bookstores this August. It would be a terrific addition to any library!