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The Sun, the Rain, and the Apple Seed: A Novel of Johnny Appleseed's Life
     

The Sun, the Rain, and the Apple Seed: A Novel of Johnny Appleseed's Life

by Lynda Durrant
 

In 1783, when John Chapman was nine, his father planted some apple seeds around their one-room cabin. A few years later, the fruit of those apple trees was feeding the growing Chapman family. Young Johnny marveled how all that was needed for this miracle to occur was the sun, the rain, and the apple seed . . . and so the “seeds” of a remarkable life

Overview


In 1783, when John Chapman was nine, his father planted some apple seeds around their one-room cabin. A few years later, the fruit of those apple trees was feeding the growing Chapman family. Young Johnny marveled how all that was needed for this miracle to occur was the sun, the rain, and the apple seed . . . and so the “seeds” of a remarkable life took root.

This engaging new account of a man whose name is known to all American schoolchildren incorporates the facts of John Chapman’s life while evoking the fanciful and fantastic aspects of his character. By providing an inside look at Johnny’s convictions and quirks, his visions and voices, the author achieves an intimacy with and an understanding of her subject that make his story both dramatic and satisfying. With insight and clarity, Durrant shows that Johnny Appleseed was not only the stuff of legend but also a very real man, an eccentric visionary who was generations ahead of his time.

Here is a vivid fictional portrait of a real-life American folk hero, rich with colorful and carefully researched historic detail. Afterword, bibliography.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Durrant's well-crafted fictional account of Johnny Appleseed's life reads like an adventure tale...lively, homespun descriptions and an informative afterword." PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY Publishers Weekly

"Readers will learn some interesting and perhaps hitherto-unknown facts about Johnny...testify to Durrant's extensive research into the historical record." KIRKUS REVIEWS Kirkus Reviews

"story of how he remained true to his calling and...simplicity...of... lifestyle...useful as a tie-in to frontier-history studies." SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL School Library Journal

"Chapman is certainly a fascinating subject, and Durrant creates a vivid portrayl of a historical legend with a powerful vision." BOOKLIST Booklist, ALA

Publishers Weekly
Durrant's (The Beaded Moccasins: The Story of Mary Campbell) well-crafted fictional account of Johnny Appleseed's life reads like an adventure tale. "One for doubt under the hoe,/ One to sprout, and one to grow." Johnny's father might have been a drunk ("Nathaniel Chapman's very soul stank of applejack") and an army deserter, but with this homily he plants a seed of inspiration in his son, who lights out for the wilderness to start apple orchards for pioneers. As he crisscrosses the Midwest, "Johnny Appleseed's" fervor about his mission and his ascetic lifestyle (he owns only the clothes upon his back, a saucepan that doubles as a hat and cornmeal, and his seeds and a Bible given to him as gifts) quickly makes him the stuff of legend. "You're all the talk of the Ohio, upstream and down," says a settler near Cincinnati. Though his mystical religious beliefs (he considered himself betrothed to a pair of stars he called "spirit-wives") make some folks nervous, they're won over by his sincerity and bravery (during the War of 1812, he ran for three days and nights to warn settlers of impending native attacks). Durrant weaves history and politics into her chronicle of Appleseed's colorful life, along with generous helpings of suspense, including a run-in with bears when Johnny inadvertently tries to share their hollow log. Lively, homespun descriptions ("Whenever he tried to reason it out, his brain would get as muddled as a corn-and-cranberry pudding") and an informative afterword round out the tale. Ages 10-14. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In 1783, John Chapman learned the power of apple seeds. His ne'er-do-well father planted seeds around their cabin; once the trees grew and bore fruit, the impoverished family was able to feed itself. As a young adult, seeing seeds being discarded at an apple cider mill in southwestern Pennsylvania, Chapman was appalled by the waste. Thoughtful contemplation led him to the conclusion that this was his calling from God: to travel the land sowing apple seeds and planting orchards. For the next fifty-five years, that is exactly what John Chapman (a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed) did, across an area of the United States from Iowa to Massachusetts. He believed that his trees would lead to peace and prosperity among all people. Legendary character Johnny Appleseed is made real in this thought-provoking fictionalized biography. Lynda Durrant examines the experiences and thoughts of the remarkable man from his youth to his death, with special consideration for the religious context of his convictions and activities. Information about Durrant's research can be found in the afterword and the accompanying list of sources. 2003, Clarion,
— Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-This historical novel details the life of John Nathaniel Chapman. As a nine-year-old in Longmeadow, MA, he plants apple seeds with his father and watches in awe when the fruit is harvested seven years later. His mission in life is revealed to him on a visit to an apple cider press in 1799, and he decides that he will plant seeds in the frontier lands of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, so that future pioneers will have food. For the next several decades, he does just that, carrying his few possessions as he travels the wilderness, quoting verses from the Bible and talking to his "spirit-wives." He meets pioneers, Native Americans, and soldiers, and along the way acquires the name "Johnny Appleseed." A section about his nonpayment of back taxes is somewhat confusing, but does not detract from the story of how he remained true to his calling and the simplicity of his lifestyle, and the man is well delineated. In an afterword, Durrant provides historical details. This novel would be useful as a tie-in to frontier-history studies.-Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Environmentalist, pacifist, vegetarian, religious devotee, visionary, nut-John Chapman, a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed, was all these, and possibly the latter most of all. The fact that, as Durrant proposes, he "wasn't right in the head" led her, she says in an afterword, to cast Chapman's life in novel form so that she could deal better than biographers have with Chapman's seeing, hearing, and conversing with angels and spirits. Readers will learn some interesting and perhaps hitherto-unknown facts about Johnny besides these. For example, he regularly quoted Bible verses extensively to one and all even in the course of ordinary conversation; once, in order to warn settlers of an impending Indian raid, he ran nonstop through the wilderness for three days and nights and thus saved many lives; he talked himself out of being murdered by Seneca villagers and was thereafter honored and afforded safe passage by them; he lost several toes and fingers to frostbite from his decades of wandering through the forests; toward the end of his life, he spent nine months in an Ohio jail for nonpayment of taxes; and he may have met the young Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately, in order to reach these passages, readers will have to slog through stilted writing (an uneven mix of the author's attempt at capturing the period style and Johnny's voice) and minutiae that testify to Durrant's extensive research into the historical record but that make for some lackluster reading. Johnny Appleseed's life is one to be admired, despite his many eccentricities. Gentle-hearted, he was committed to respect for and kindness toward nature and all living things. This is unlikely to be the apple of anyone's eye. Stick to goodbiographies. (afterword, bibliography) (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618234875
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
03/24/2003
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.81(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Lynda Durrant is the author of five well-received historical novels for Clarion, several of which have been named to state children’s choice awards lists. She lives in Bath, Ohio, with her family and a horse named Irish.

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