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Apple, by Nikki McClure is a special book. It is simple enough to be appealing to very young children, but is about ideas that are relevant and interesting to school age children too.

This is the story of the life cycle of an apple, with only one word per page to accompany each image. The economical form of storytelling opens up myriad opportunities for conversations about food, seasons, composting, and even more abstract concepts like sharing, and patience.

The striking, elegant black and white papercuts, with their splashes of apple-red, make the book as interesting an artwork as it is a story. Older children will be fascinated by the way that McClure has managed to create each intricate image from just one piece of paper. She evokes movement, depth, and texture in two dimensions with real skill.

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Mama – Which bit of this book do you like best?

Arty – The apple bits.

Mama – That’s all of it!

Arty – Yeah!

Mama – Do you have a favourite part in the story?

Arty – Where the apple falls from the tree.

Mama – Yeah, that’s a good bit. What else do you like about the book?

Arty – The ‘Q’ and the ‘E’ and the ‘S’…

Mama – You like the letters?

Arty – Yeah. I like reading them.

Arty loves this book because each word is printed in big, bold letters, and he likes to name each letter in each word as we go. He’s at that stage where letters and numbers are fascinating, and he sees and identifies them everywhere he goes. When we read this book together it goes like this:

Mummy – Fall…

Arty – [pointing at each letter] F – A – L – L, fall!

One of his favourite pages is where the children forget their apple to play hide and seek, because it has numbers on it too

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This is a book that has real value on multiple levels – as an artwork, and as a teaching tool for literacy, and social values. It expresses a great deal with economy and grace. It is quite lovely.


(You can get a copy here).