Frost, Helen. Applesauce Weather. Amy June Bates, Illus. Fiction. Candlewick, 08/2016. 104pp. $14.99. 978-0-7636-7576-9. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 2-7.
When the first apple falls from the tree, Faith knows Uncle Arthur will be visiting soon. But will he still come now that Great Aunt Lucy is gone? Frost, known for award-winning novels in verse, eloquently weaves a story of remembrance, loss, and family ties through gentle verse and simple prose. The story of Lucy and Arthur unwinds through short episodic sections told in turn through the language and introspection of Faith, brother Peter, and Uncle Arthur. Between each section appears a song by Lucy, giving a voice to the beloved one who has past. The telling of the story in first-person narrative through multiple voices creates a sense of live action, drawing the reader in. Bates, known for her rich, painted illustrations in Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed (Leslea Newman, 2015) has enhanced Frost’s kinetic text with detailed pencil drawings that convey movement through energetic strokes and sketched features. The main characters are depicted as white, as are those remembered from the past. The children’s young neighbor, Rose, is described as having black curls and is illustrated with dark skin, which subtly suggests demographic evolution in a formerly Caucasian rural neighborhood. Simple text, short episodes, and an abundance of illustrations will attract transitional readers to this short novel. Middle grade readers will appreciate the complexity of the theme and find nuance in the multiple perspectives of the various narrators. Due to the musical nature of the verse, the book will also make a unique read-aloud.
Sarah Jo Zaharako, Independent