Johnny Appleseed was an important historical figure, well known for planting apple orchards across the new frontier. But he was also a master storyteller! In his own folksy voice, Johnny Appleseed tells his story to a couple of entranced children in this fictionalized Step 2 title. Readers learn how he started planting apple trees—and about some of the myths and true stories of his life.
As befits a hero of American folklore, here Johnny Appleseed's life is presented in the form of a tale told to an eager family he visits in his travels. Asked for a story, Johnny shares with two rapt children his own childhood in the woods, his barefoot journeying, an adventure in a snowstorm, his long career selling apple tree sprouts to settlers, and various legends that are told about him. The book ends with Papa telling Johnny, "You look like a happy man," and Johnny agreeing, "I am a happy man. I have spent my life raising apple tree sprouts." As presented, John Chapman's simple life of sharing apples with others does seem a happy one, indeed. Although the text is marred by an over-abundance of exclamation marks (sometimes several to a page), the narration is direct and engaging, and the accompanying art is colorful and appealing. 2001, Random House, $11.99 and $3.99. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer:Claudia Mills