Applebet: An ABC | A Best Picture Book Review

by tandemonimom

Applebet is that rarest of books: a great alphabet book that also has a brilliant storyline as well!

Applebet: An ABC

Applebet is a book I purchased when I was pregnant with my first child. I knew that it would be regular reading with all of my children, and it was, with all four! Applebet hits every one of my high (some would say picky or snobbish) standards for children's literature. It is a beautifully told story, flowing without being forced from one scene to the next, and enhanced with pictures that not only illustrate the story, but add a layer of meaning beyond the text alone.

As a secondary point, it has an explicitly educational thread in the form of being an alphabet picture book. Yes, "explicitly educational" is definitely second tier in my decision to choose a good storybook. You see, a book cannot hit all the previous points without being, merely because of its excellence in those areas, educational to one extent or another. Aside from everything else, it is educational to the child's burgeoning sense of what good literature is: what is worth reading.

A second-rate book cobbled together just to make an education point not only will likely lose the child's interest sooner, it also degrades his aesthetics, his ability to distinguish and celebrate excellence in books, art, and by extension in every area of his life. And besides aesthetics, most good picture books offer something to learn within the storyline, separate from the explicitly education angle.

This book offers all three: aesthetics, good storyline, and an educational point.


Applebet: An ABC (Sunburst Book)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
$10.3  $24.0

Applebet: The Story

Applebet is the story of an apple farmer and her daughter getting ready to take their wagonload of apples to the county fair. The story progresses through the alphabet, giving each letter its own rhyming couplet that advances the storyline. Secondary sounds and common blends are included, so you'll read:

C is for cart standing ready below
Brimful of apples and ready to go.
Soft C is for cider made first thing today
We'll keep a jug handy to drink on the way.
CH is for Cherry, the little red mare
Giddy-up Cherry, we're off to the fair!

The humor of the story is evident when a loose (P) pig gets into their apples, and later when a (TH) thief breaks into the fair judges' tent and tries to make off with the goods, but is brought down with an (U) uproar!

My family loves this story so much, we have adopted the last line as our own:

Z is for zig-zag all the way back
Home again, home again, appledy-jack.

I've had friends try to correct me - I've always heard "home again, home again, jiggity jog!" - but we know we're right.

Clyde and Wendy Watson

Clyde and Wendy are sisters - yes, SISTERS - who often collaborate on children's book projects.

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All book reviews on this page are personal favorites of my family!
Are you looking for a great picture book? These are my personal favorites, complete with book reviews. I hope you love these books as much as my children and I do!

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Updated: 08/03/2011, tandemonimom
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Treasures By Brenda on 07/01/2011

Sounds like a great picture book, Carma.

Jimmie on 06/30/2011

I love the structure of an ABC book. These are fun for kids to make, too.

ohcaroline on 06/30/2011

This book sounds like a real winner. I really like the artwork on the cover and the content sounds so charming. More kids should be steeped in this one!

petunia on 06/29/2011

Oh what fun! You do find the best books!

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