Applesauce Season

Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein

A perfect book to ease into autumn!  A little boy and his family make applesauce every year just around the time school starts.  They go to the farmer’s market and pick out all sorts of apples for sauce and for eating.  The little boy is in charge of washing the apples when they get home and then his mother and grandmother cut them into pieces.  Into the pot they go with just the right amount of liquid.  When they soften, the little boy gets to help put them through a food mill.  Then a bit of butter, a pinch of salt and just the right amount of cinnamon sugar are added.  The father in the family doesn’t help with the applesauce, instead he makes things to go with it and applesauce cake to use the last of it up.  Throughout the fall, the family makes applesauce together with the color and taste of it changing as the season moves on.

The details of the making of the applesauce is the bulk of this story, though it is about not only the process but a family that cooks together and enjoys it immensely.  Lipson has just the right touch with the text which is explanatory and simple, allowing children to see how it is done.  One delightful part is how much the little boy is allowed to do.  Children will see themselves as part of the action rather than observers.  Gerstein adds the beaming faces of the family as they cook together, the bright colors of the apples, and the changing faces of the applesauce.  His illustrations are just as comforting and welcome as a warm spoonful of applesauce.

This is a lovely celebration of food and family with just the right sweetness and spice.  Highly recommended for apple story times and units, especially for those classrooms and libraries that create applesauce with the children.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Strawberry Hill


Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman

Allie and her family are going to be moving to a home all their own.   Her father would be able to be with them every day, not just on weekends because his job was far away due to the Depression.  And the neighborhood had a wonderful name, Strawberry Hill.  But when Allie gets to the new house, there are no strawberries in sight and she had to leave her best friend behind.  Allie discovers that there are two girls just her age right nearby, but deciding who is going to be her new best friend is complicated.  It doesn’t help that the two girls are so very different and Allie feels drawn to each of them for different reasons.  When Allie is called a “dirty Jew” by another girl, the novel takes on another dimension, dealing with racial issues. 

This novel for young readers has just the right amount of tension around friendships and race.  The girls are all complex and interesting characters as are the adults, which takes some finesse in a book for this age.  Allie is a charming character who worries about things like colors, tuna fish sandwiches, and making a good impression.  Her coming-of-age story is gentle and will find an audience with children who enjoy quiet moments, small details, and historical elements. 

Allie’s eagerness to find a new best friend translates into a character that any reader would love to befriend.  Recommended for ages 8-11.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by Brimful Curiosities, A Patchwork of Books, and Abby (the) Librarian.