Monday, November 09, 2015

THE APPLE TREE by Sandy Tharp-Thee and Marlena Campbell Hodson

I am happy to recommend The Apple Tree by Sandy Tharpe-Thee and Marlena Campbell Hodson. Published this year by Road Runner Press, the story is about Cherokee boy who plants an apple seed in his backyard. 

Here's the cover:

Here's the little boy:

And here's the facing page for the one of the little boy:

I like this anthropomorphized story very much and think it is an excellent book all on its own, and would also be terrific for read-aloud sessions when introducing kids to stories about planting, or patience, or... apples! 

When the apple tree sprouts and is a few inches high, the little boy puts a sign by it so that people will see it and not accidentally step on it. That reminds me of my grandmother. She did something similar. To protect a new cedar tree that sprouted near a roadside on the reservation, she make a ring of stones around it so people wouldn't run over it. The apple tree in Tharp-Thee's story grows, as does the boy, and eventually the tree produces apples. 

When you read it, make sure you show kids the Cherokee words, and show them the Cherokee Nation's website, too. Help your students know all they can about the Cherokee people. Published in 2015 by The Road Runner Press. The author, Sandy Tharpe-Thee, is a tribal librarian and received the White House Champion of Change award for her work. She is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. 


Amanda said...

I love this! I just recommended this to my MIL for her classroom and to the Chicago Public Library to purchase. Thank you for the recommendation.

Christina Jane Stuck said...

Back in September, Kirkus reviewed this book and basically said the storyline is muddled and it confused the reviewer. The Kirkus reviewer stated that the boy ties a red apple to the tree because the tree is sad it can't produce for the boy. In the morning, the tree offers the apple to the boy. The reviewer goes on: "Years later, when the tree's branches are bowing (at least in the text) from the weight of bumper crops of yellow apples, it opaquely proclaims 'I will never forget my first apple, the one the Creator made red… / …just to show how much I am loved.' Good luck to adult readers asked to explain the significance of the color or how the boy comes to be equated with the Creator—or for that matter how deceiving the sapling is a nurturing act."

Your review doesn't mention any of that and makes it out to be a really sweet, simple story. Is it that "mysterious" and confusing as the reviewer makes it out to be? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'm psyched about the book being bilingual - English/Cherokee. I hope that we will see more books like this one be available to kids and families.

Nanette said...

Christina Jane Stuck, that Kirkus reviewer seems confused about many things.

I mean---

"The child is dubbed “a Cherokee boy” once in the narrative, but he is otherwise a black-haired, dark-skinned Everychild in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers rather than stereotypical "tribal" garb."



"When the young tree nonetheless becomes sad and droopy (in the text, not the pictures) because it cannot make apples, he waits until it’s asleep (?)

The question mark is hers, I guess wondering how a tree could be asleep? I suppose if she reviewed LOTR the Ents would have her pinging off the walls, and I can't even imagine if she encountered the Walloping Willow or some of the Disney tree--that not only slept, but smiled and plotted and touched and all sort of things. Good grief.

I have not read this book, but nothing in what she points out seems confusing to me. I guess it might be to someone who is not used to magic or magical realism in stories, or in the use of anthropomorphism--which seems a bit odd to me, but who knows. And as for hanging the apple--who hasn't heard of "Fake it until you make it?"

I actually came to this thread to say how much I liked the idea of this book, especially since I have spent the last year or so volunteering in a garden (fruit and veg) associated with a homeless shelter. Being a city girl, I have found actually growing things to be fascinating and a lot easier than I ever thought it would be (hard work, though.)

One day I was sitting, taking a break, and a Hmong friend stopped beside me and starting talking away in Hmong. I looked around and neither her husband nor her dogs were around (the only other ones there at the time that understood the language) so I asked her who she was talking to. She laughed and pointed at the sad looking tiny apple tree that was near my chair. "I was telling it to grow, grow big and reach up to the sky," she said. She told me how her mother (and aunties and uncles and so on) would always talk to their trees and plants, and they thrived because of it (sure enough, coincidence or not, the little tree started growing and budding soon after.)

Anyway, gotten a bit off track, but I can't imagine adult readers with any sort of ability to entertain a child's imagination would have trouble explaining the book. And if they do have trouble with certain terms (Creator, for example) it's a perfect opportunity to delve further into how the term is used in the book, and if there is a special significance to other things as well.

Jeanne Devlin said...

Librarians might like to know that The Apple Tree received a lovely review by Tulsa Book Reviews, with a review written by a librarian with the Tulsa City-County Public Library, the second largest system in Oklahoma.
It also made the Short List for Canada's First Nations Read.
And it has been chosen for Ontario's Club Amick, which sends books to 36 remote Canadian village and some 5,000 children as part of a literacy outreach.
We hope other libraries -- school, public, tribe -- will give it a chance.
Thanks so much for the comments!
Jeanne Devlin
The RoadRunner Press