After last week’s book that was all about the words because there were next to no illustrations, this week we’re swinging to the other end of the pendulum and a book that I’m afraid to say I judged entirely on its cover. Because the cover of The Apple Cake is absolutely gorgeous. And thankfully for the girls, Pip and me, though perhaps not so wonderfully if you’re after a morality tale, the inside has turned out to be just as wonderful, if not more so.
For starters the illustrations are just so beautiful; I want to say that they’re grown up, but I think I just mean that they’re art, you could half imaging them on a postcard in a National Trust gift shop. The colours are rich and luscious, and the scene is set gently, but with plenty of room for your own imagination, and the colours tip over into the background to the words, joining it all together.
I could sit and look at the pictures for ages, which is probably a good thing because this has proved a very popular addition to our library, and as our recent sunny days gave way to clouds, rain and more rain, we’ve sat on the floor all four of us together and imagined ourselves into the golden sunshine of the story and hoped for the sun to come again.
It is a really lovely story, with shades of the sort of story that I remember from my own childhood; an old woman really wants to make an apple cake but she doesn’t have apples, only plums, so she picks a beautiful basket of plums and heads off to market to try to trade them for apples. And along the way she meets a girl watching her poultry, a couple arguing about chair stuffings, a rich handsome young man, a poor family, and a lonely old man with an apple tree. Each time she makes a swap until at last she ends up with her apples and sits down to a delicious feast of cake.
It’s a timeless story and it is a very complete story; it feels very satisfying to follow the old woman along her journey to her apples, and I love that she treated everyone with equal kindness and respect and it’s because of that that she reached her ultimate aim; never mind the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, that’s the kind of conduct and instinctive selflessness that any parent would like their child to replicate.
And then, just in case that wasn’t enough, there’s a recipe on the back for the apple cake.
I’d love to show you a picture because we did set to one morning and built up a fug in the kitchen chopping apples and baking a warm and spicy sweet apple bread, but alas, first one slice, then another, and then a load more shot off the breadboard into welcoming hands, until all that was left was the tail end of the loaf heading off to fulfil its higher purpose in the toaster. Suffice to say it was yummy, and we will definitely be making it again. And I think for the girls it really brought the book to life, they love to absorb things by copying, and to make the actual real cake that the old woman made has I suspect cemented it in their library of favourites.
And now to take a slight detour; as well as sharing a story today I have a question. We have lots of books. Like a lot of books. And we read stories every day and most of them come around in the rotation quite naturally. But I don’t want anything to be forgotten or lost or shoved down the back of the bookcase and so I’m contemplating splitting them up, possibly be seasons and then swapping a basket of books in and out every three months or so. I’m still thinking it through, so my question for today is, how do you organise the children’s books? do you swap them in and out or just have them all out at once? And if you do keep a rotating library, how did you divide them up?
Last week Jess and Rosalie tiptoed into the wonderful world of nonsense poetry with the amazing sounding The Man from the Land of Fandango – I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!
If you have read something lovely recently, please do put your link in the comments section and shout to the world – and we’ll all come and have a read! What We’re Reading is a weekly round up of posts about children’s books. That’s about as far as the ‘rules’ go; it can be picture books, baby books, books for older children or even young adult if you like; just come and join us to tell us what you’ve been reading recently. Or if you’d rather join in on Instagram or Twitter that would be wonderful too, just use the hashtag #whatweread and tag me (@cariemay on Instagram and @cariemaymakes on Twitter) and then we can all come and say hi.
I’m becoming a spent record by now but as the deadline approaches (5.30 tomorrow), would you consider casting a vote for what I’m writing in the way of a nomination for the MADs ? It’s the last time I’ll ask I promise! (if you’re not up on UK parent blogger shorthand, the MADs is different to the BiBs so if you voted for me there earlier in the year, I am indeed asking for another vote for an entirely separate round of awards – cheeky isn’t it!)