Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Applesauce Weather, written by Helen Frost and illustrated by Amy June Bates. Candlewick, Random House. 2016. $21.00 ages 8 and up
and still my sister sits,
holding the apple,
watching the road
like it's a scientific fact
that the first apple
to fall from this tree
will somehow act
like a magnet, pulling
Uncle Arthur home to us.
It's obvious by now ... "
Will he come? Faith and Peter know it's applesauce weather when they see the first apple fall from their tree. Uncle Arthur always visits at this time of year, regaling them with stories and insistent on telling them how he lost his finger. This year, they are not so sure. Since last apple season, his and their beloved Aunt Lucy has died. Uncle Arthur doesn't have the same spark he once had.
Faith believes that he will be there. When he arrives, Uncle Arthur is not so sure they will be happy to see only him. His stories seem to have deserted him since he lost his love.
"Are the children expecting a story from me?
They're not asking - perhaps
they can see the empty place
where my stories would be
if Lucy were here to hear them.
Faith sits beside me, taking my hand
(my thumb-and-three-and-a-half fingers hand).
Is she old enough to understand how things
can go missing and never be found?
Too much silence can make a deafening sound."
Helen Frost is a word master. Her three voices, written in verse, are tender, loving, and meaningful. Love abounds in every moment. Their stories are clear and moving, all wrapped up together in a very special book about family love, grief and enduring connections.
Amy Bates' perfect pencil drawings are as delicate as the story told. Emotions are shared in shy smiles, intent listening, warm memories, entertaining stories, and the bounty of autumn. Aunt Lucy's presence continues to be felt in the songs that begin each new section of the story, as she remembers her happy life with her Arthur.
"Oh, the stories I heard him weave -
I never knew quite what to believe.
From the time we were young until we grew old,
I never stopped loving Arthur
and the stories he told."
Please share it with your children and your students.