Johnny Appleseed: The Legend and the Truth

Overview

Planting trees is quite an art.
He plants the apples with his heart.
Johnny, Johnny Appleseed.

Everyone knows the legend of Johnny Appleseed, the man from Massachusetts who planted apple trees all the way to California. But the true story of Johnny Appleseed, or John Chapman, is even greater than the legend. In deft and lyrical prose, Jane Yolen tells the whole story of an individual who forever changed the ...

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Overview

Planting trees is quite an art.
He plants the apples with his heart.
Johnny, Johnny Appleseed.

Everyone knows the legend of Johnny Appleseed, the man from Massachusetts who planted apple trees all the way to California. But the true story of Johnny Appleseed, or John Chapman, is even greater than the legend. In deft and lyrical prose, Jane Yolen tells the whole story of an individual who forever changed the landscape of America. Breathtaking paintings by award-winning artist Jim Burke illuminate the historical detail of this man's life while capturing all the magic and mystery of his legend.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 2-4

Yolen relates both fact and legend in this brief biographical piece about John Chapman, know best as Johnny Appleseed. Against each double-page painting, the text is set in a creamy rectangular box that has the appearance of a frayed-edge leaf torn from an old book. At the top is a rhyming quatrain followed by the refrain, "Johnny, Johnny Appleseed" (e.g., "Learns to write,/Learns to read,/First word he pens/Is apple seed./Johnny, Johnny Appleseed"). Information about Chapman's life appears under the verses; it details his growing desire to travel west, his love of nature, and his interactions with Native Americans and settlers. Tidbits about Chapman, his family, his travels, and the heritage he left are also included. While sources are mentioned for a few of these facts, there are no source notes or acknowledgments for most of the seemingly factual information related here. Burke's thickly painted illustrations in rich hues of greens and browns, blues and yellows range from folk style to several realistic portraits and one lifelike study of an open pair of hands holding apple seeds. An author's note adds some details of legends that spread about Chapman's feats and his unusual lifestyle. Will Moses's Johnny Appleseed: The Story of a Legend (Philomel, 2001), written in the rambling style of an old yarn, is filled with verified factual details of Chapman's life and includes a bibliography. Gwenyth Swain's Johnny Appleseed (Carolrhoda, 2001), written in easy-reader format, includes both a chronology and bibliography.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

Kirkus Reviews
Yolen wants it both ways: Johnny Appleseed the legend and John Chapman the somewhat fruity ("There is no doubt Johnny is strange") Swedenborgian apple-tree merchant. So she tells two tales here in a call-and-response fashion: a slice of legend followed by a piece of fact that either corrects or enlarges upon the history of Johnny Appleseed. Introducing each of the two-page spreads is a poetic stanza that serves forth a sample of the legend: "Tin-pot hat, / Ratty hair, / Clothes just rags, / Feet go bare." Burke's soft illustrations, with their deep-dish color and touch of old stencils, lend an antique and jolly mood to Johnny's antics, which Yolen finds legend-worthy even without the tin-pot hat, for Appleseed was a man who made a real impact on the look of the frontier. Some of the speculation is on the strong side-"Because Father Nathaniel was not given the acres of land promised all colonial soldiers, some historians believe he was dismissed for stealing army supplies"-but this is mostly a smart, concise, perspective-setting look at Appleseed/Chapman's life. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060591373
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/6/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 488,943
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books, including fantasy, science fiction, and poetry, which earned her the moniker the American Hans Christian Andersen. Her titles include Odysseus in the Serpent Maze, The Dragon's Boy, and The Girl Who Loved the Wind. Jane Yolen divides her time between a farmhouse in Massachusetts and a house in Scotland.

Jim Burke has illustrated a number of children's picture books, including Take Me Out To The Ball Game by Jack Norworth and My Brothers' Flying Machine: Wilbur, Orville, and Me by Jane Yolen, which won an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award and a Parents' Choice Gold Award. Jim has also won numerous accolades for his paintings, including a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators in New York and citations in Communications Arts magazine. He lives in Beacon, New York, with his wife and young daughter.

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