Luckily, its made clear all along that, while this is a historical fiction story based on a real man/family, that its a meant to be amusing tall tale, and its a delightful story. The tale is based on the man who first brought fruit trees (from Iowa) to Oregon. Given these circumstances, I think children with loving and attentive parents will find this story silly, and maybe hilarious at times, and theyll enjoy it. I personally would not knowingly read it to children who have been neglected (or abused) in any way because my thinking is that they may find it highly disturbing, and thats a shame because it really is a clever and amusing tall tale.
The third book I have read from author/illustrator team Deborah Hopkinson and Nancy Carpenter - the first two being Fannie in the Kitchen and A Letter to My Teacher - this engaging work of picture-book historical fiction is apparently based upon the real-life story of pioneer Henderson Lewelling, who established the first orchard in Oregon.
Premise/plot: Apples to Oregon is a tall tale story. A girl named DELICIOUS is telling the story of how her Dad brought apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes, and cherries with the family on their trek west on the Oregon Trail. There was a man who did bring apples and other fruits to Oregon, but this isn't his story. Here's an example of the silliness: The wind began to throw around everything that wasn't lashed down--our boots, baby Albert's diapers, every pot and pan Momma had, even our own little wagon.
The story that follows is a creative, silly, heartwarming tale about a journey to move not only apple trees, but also a family, half way across the country. To the readers surprise, the larger wagon is the one holding the fruit trees, and the family is squeezed in the small covered wagon trailing behind. The narrator young girl, Delicious, is the apple of her daddys eye and she helps the family make it across. Because the story is about a journey west, geography lessons can be based on what is read, and the history of the apple and how orchards came in to existence in the west is not just a fluke.
Delicious tells us about their adventure-filled journey, one with a personal dream as tall as this tale: that of Papa getting his precious fruit trees, carried in boxes set to wagons, across the western plains and mountains, and ultimately planted in good Oregon dirt. And oh, yes, its a good thing too, because Delicious saves the day time and time again for her family (and especially for her Papa and his dream) during their journey.
Delicious portrayed a positive example to students, showing the importance of perseverance and hard work. Apples to Oregon was a great book to use to really help my students understand why illustrations are so important while reading. This book leads to great discussion after perseverance and the importance of illustrations.
This tall tale of a pioneer who brings a wagon full of apple, peach, pear, plum, grape, and cherry saplings (oh, and his eight children) over the Oregon Trail is fun and engaging for kids, especially here in Oregon.
The author says this is "mostly a tall tale" and subtitled it a "(slightly) true narrative." I think it's an entirely fun take on how apple trees made it to Oregon with a spectacularly strong narrator, a young girl named Delicious.
Recent awards for picture books include ORDINARY, EXTRAORDINARY JANE being named a 2019 Oregon Book Award finalist.