Applesauce Weather: A Slice of Life

BookendsCindy: Aunt Lucy and Uncle Arthur always arrive when the first apple falls and the season becomes applesauce weather. Aunt Lucy is gone, but surely Uncle Arthur will show up according to schedule. The warm gingerbread and lemon sauce are waiting, and so are Faith and her brother Peter, but still Uncle Arthur doesn’t arrive. When he finally does, his grief at losing his partner is palpable, but his loving and patient family are hopeful that he will begin telling stories again and that the sparkle will return to his eyes.

applesauce-weatherChildren encounter grief through many different ways, and of the most frequent is the loss of an elderly relative. In Applesauce WeatherHelen Frost does a marvelous job of showing how a family copes with this loss, including telling stories to keep the memories alive. The story is told in verse through the voices of the individual family members. Faith is the one with hope, while Peter is more cynical, or practical:

My sister is ridiculous.

Silly. Superstitious.
Uncle Arthur lives in town,
a two-hour drive away from us.
How could he possibly know
when the first apple falls
from our tree?

Lynn read this first and knew it was a book I needed to read. She was right. I hope many middle-grade children find that they need to read it too. Give this to fans of Patricia MacLachlan or Cynthia Rylant.

“I have stories and songs in my life,
like an orchard of apple trees.”

Applesauce Weather is pretty special, just like a perfect fall afternoon.

Lynn: Cindy is right! This little book is special. Told in verse through four distinct first-person voices, each poem is like the bite of an apple, providing a mix of thoughts, feelings, and flavors. Frost beautifully crafts each poem with skillful word choice, making each entry a pleasure to experience. a slice of life that chronicles a special moment. There are no explosions, no disasters, no breathless dramatic moments. Instead we see a warm snapshot of a day that quietly starts to help heal three hearts.

A wonderful thread concerning Uncle Arthur’s missing finger provides delight and humor, a little mystery, and even some suspense. What did happen to Uncle Arthur’s finger? What a terrific writing prompt after a classroom read!

This little book is a treasure to share with readers of all ages.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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