This easy-reader biography of the familiar folk hero traces John Chapman's life. Born on the eve of the Revolutionary War, he grew up with eleven siblings and half-siblings. His career selling apple seedlings brought him to pioneers who were settling the new frontier, west from Pennsylvania to Ohio and Indiana. Friendly with both Indians and white settlers, Chapman experienced dual loyalties as the two groups fought during the War of 1812. Toward the end of his life he became a traveling missionary, preaching sermons as well as sowing apple trees. Swain provides a concluding section about some of the myths that grew up around Chapmansuch as, that he dressed in burlap sacks and wore a tin-pot hat, and that he was called Johnny Appleseed. The text is appropriately simple and accessible for emerging readers, although its claim that "At some point in John's life, God spoke to him" suggests the occurrence of a mystical revelation that does not fit other published accounts of John's growing spirituality. The art, for some reason, depicts John as looking like a stereotyped Chinaman, complete with slanty eyes and straggly black goatee. An "On My Own Biography." 2001, Carolrhoda Books, $21.27 and $6.95. Ages 6 to 8. Reviewer:Claudia Mills
Gr 1-2-In short declarative sentences, this beginning reader focuses on the facts rather than the myths surrounding the life of John Chapman. While it doesn't go into any great detail, it does cover his early life, his love of nature, his seedling business that traveled with him from Pennsylvania westward, and his missionary work. Porter's stylized illustrations featuring angular figures add little to the text. There are many titles available about both the man and the myth and libraries are likely to own several. However, this volume may have a place in classrooms where beginning readers are studying familiar fall themes or in places where Chapman left his mark.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.