cover image The Apple Pie That Papa Baked

The Apple Pie That Papa Baked

Lauren Thompson, , illus. by Jonathan Bean. . S&S, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-1240-8

Thompson (Polar Bear Night ) and Bean (At Night , reviewed above) cook up a delicious homage to vintage children's books. Describing the eponymous pie, the author replicates with natural grace the cumulative structure and rhythm of “The House That Jack Built”—“This is the tree, crooked and strong,/ that grew the apples, juicy and red,/ that went in the pie, warm and sweet,/ that Papa baked.” Bean—who names his influences as Virginia Lee Burton and Wanda Gág—unfolds the action on a ramshackle farm, limiting his palette to three colors, black, ochre and a splash of red. Visual excitement comes from the textures of rough bark and rolling hills. The farmer father, his daughter with her tight braids and feedsack dress, and their farm look a lot like renderings from WPA-era woodcuts and lithographs. The family livestock and lean black cat peer hopefully through the window as Papa and daughter peel apples into a pie plate. All the characters, human and animal, appear in silhouette at sunset in a resounding finale: “This is the world,/ blooming with life,/ that spins with the sun, fiery and bright,/ that lights the sky, wide and fair....” The last page indicates an unexpected guest dropping by for the last piece of pie. This tribute to the artists of an earlier age should take its place among bedtime favorites; if it persuades families to explore picture book classics, so much the better. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)