Reading through this book is like walking through a living history museum! In the opening pages, author Esmé Raji Codell asks, "When we look out our windows, what do we see?" She then begins to describe how things used to look, as Lynn Rae Perkins' soothing pictures take us through a "tree-bough-tangled world" of the past...
Illustrator Lynn Rae Perkins immersed herself in the life and times of Johnny Appleseed for her research: visiting museums, hiking, and even spending hours stitching a beautiful sampler that appears in the book.
Lynn Rae Perkins: Esmé writes about the “five footsteps” Johnny left for us to walk in, ideas that we can emulate in our own lives. I decided to try to embody those ideas in physical objects. I thought it would make it easier for kids to remember them. Also, I like, really really like, making stuff. This meant more research, because I wanted the objects to represent the idea, but also to be of Johnny’s time and place. I wanted them to be things that would have words on them: maps, books, embroidery, painted signs. But what did those things look like back then? Which things were present in ordinary people’s lives?
|1. Use what you have.|
2. Share what you have.
3. Respect Nature.
4. Try to make peace where there is war.
5. You can reach your destination by taking small steps.
...what I was really looking for was a book that not only walked through the narrative of John Chapman’s storied life, but one that would make the legend of Johnny Appleseed relevant to the modern, urban readers in the Chicago Public Schools, the children with whom I was reading. The question wasn't "who was Johnny Appleseed?" The question was, "Why should we care who he was?" I wanted a book that made readers love Johnny Appleseed, be inspired by him and want to emulate his example, even over the distance of history. I had that experience, and I wanted to share it. So the first thing I did in approaching SEED BY SEED was think, what is it about John Chapman that transcends time? What about him touches me in both a secular way and a spiritual way, and how can that been written about so it will touch someone else?
One of my favorite stories that Esmé relates about Johnny?
It is said that John Chapman used his open shirt pocket as a pouch to carry his books. It is also said that he ripped books into chapters in order to circulate them between settlers. He liked to gather children and their families around him and delight them with a story time...In this way, he was the frontier's first librarian!
I'm sure we can all take a lesson from Johnny Appleseed, a man who lived by example, was kind and pious, and had respect for all living things:
Seed by seed, deed by deed,
Johnny Appleseed changed the landscape of a nation.
And now it's your turn.
One small deed, every day.
Tomorrow, go do your good deed for the day and exercise your freedom to vote! And if you treat yourself to this book, you'll find a recipe for Johnny's favorite dessert on the last page! Apple Pie and voting - it doesn't get much more American than that!