Apple Cake: A Gratitude
Apple Cake: A Gratitude
Thank you, hedge,
thank you, tree.
Thank you, flower,
thank you, bee,
I suspect that rarely do we think of the chain of events that have led to our eating a particular food item at a meal (beyond, perhaps, recognizing the cook or the server’s visible role), but Casey reminds her readers that a sequence of happenings had to occur before that food stuff ended up in our stomachs and that we should be thankful for each step/stage in the process.
Apple Cake’s cover includes a subtitle, “A Gratitude”, wording which is not repeated on the title page, but observant readers might connect the cover’s image of a little girl carrying a cake with the subtitle and correctly conclude that she is thankful for the cake. However, the book’s opening text (see “Excerpt” above) initially appears to be quite unconnected to a cake. For most of the book, the text simply consists of rhyming couplets, with the couplets being spread over pairs of double-page spreads. After listening to a first reading of Apple Cake, young nonreaders will recognize the text’s repetitive pattern and will likely join in on subsequent readings.
Near the end of the book, Casey provides a summary,
Thank you for
the food we eat.
Hedge and tree,
cows and hens,
earth and water, fire and air,
thank you for
the gifts you
before concluding and reconnecting with the book’s title.
Thank you for the
food we make,
Thank you all for
Apple Cake is a title that demands rereading to explore how each of the named thank-you’s has played a role in the creation of the final product, the apple cake. For example, Casey’s mentioning flowers and bees could lead to a simple explanation of pollination. Genevieve Godbout’s soft pastel and coloured pencil illustrations also contribute to children’s understanding of the text. For instance, when the central character, a little girl, is to “Thank you, family,/thank you friends”, two other children can be observed gathering apples. Godbout also portrays the girl as having a basket, and it also plays a role in clarifying the text. When she thanks the cows and hens, Godbout adds eggs and milk to her basket, a basket the girl will ultimately give to her mother as it contains many of the needed ingredients for the apple cake. Godbout’s illustrations, with their subtle details, can also be enjoyed simply as art. The girl’s dog appears in almost all of the spreads as another silent character.
At the end of the book, Casey provides a “Recipe for Apple Cake” that lists the ingredients and the instructions for making the cake, its topping and glaze. Where a child can assist, that point is noted in the instructions.
With its brief, largely patterned text, Apple Cake initially appears to be a simple picture book, but, in fact, its contents are quite sophisticated. Though its use around Thanksgiving time is obvious, the book’s message is ageless.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.