cover image JOHNNY APPLESEED: The Story of a Legend

JOHNNY APPLESEED: The Story of a Legend

Will Moses, . . Philomel, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23153-7

Employing an intriguing blend of biography, comparative literature and good old-fashioned yarn-spinning, Moses (Silent Night; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) explores the life and times of Johnny Appleseed, the great tree hugger and tree planter from American folklore. Appleseed, who began life as John Chapman, born in Massachusetts in 1774, had always longed to "live as he wanted, free like the Indians and the animals," in the wild woods and undeveloped lands of early America. At the leisurely pace of a stroll through a country orchard, Moses fashions his own homespun account of Johnny's adventures by touching upon myriad legends and tales. According to the narrative, as a young man Johnny headed west to the frontier, where the ideas that formed his lifelong vision took shape: "apples were good for just about everything" and the versatile fruit was "just what the frontier needed." Living in the woods, often tattered and scruffy in appearance, Johnny roamed the wilds of western Pennsylvania and the Ohio frontier planting apple seeds and saplings and helping pioneers do the same. His reputation for kindness and generosity, as well as for his strange behavior, grew even after his death in 1845. Delicate, folk-art oil paintings capture the eccentric folk hero in his "outlandish hat—a soup pot one day, a pasteboard cap the next" as well as America at its bucolic best—a rolling land of fertile hills, farms and rivers and, of course, bountiful, blossoming apple trees. All ages. (Sept.)