seed by seed

Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John “Appleseed” Chapman by Esme Raji Codell, illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins

Two modern children are transported back in time from the busy highways filled with cars to the quiet woods of the late 1700s.  From there, the story of Johnny Appleseed, really named John Chapman, is told.  The differences between the world back then and our modern world are explored.  Then the way of life that Johnny Appleseed embraced that of using what you have, respecting nature, sharing, making peace, and reaching your destination in small steps is tied back to how important those things are still for us today.  His planting of seeds changed the landscape of our country.  The book ends asking what seed you will plant.

Codell writes with a wonderful lyricism paired with a directness.  It makes for a book that is straight-forward but also written with care to create a specific mood.  Chapman’s story is filled with legend, especially in his relationship with nature and animals.  While some of it may be tall tales, it contributes to the wonder that surrounds this man.  Codell made a choice to have some of that in her book and it works very well, distinctly noted as legend rather than fact.

Perkins’ illustrations vary from page to page.  Most of the art is done in watercolor and gouache, creating bright colored images that embrace the natural and feel clear and crisp.  Other pages incorporate burlap bags and needlework.  It’s a clever use of materials of the period that really add another dimension to the illustrations.

A beautiful look at a man who stand for much of what we are seeking in modern society.  This book reaches beyond the legend and finds the real Johnny Appleseed.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from library copy.