CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 10. . . .November 9, 2012
In Klaas Verplancke’s Applesauce, a young boy named Johnny works to come to terms with the two sides of his father’s personality. Sometimes Johnny’s father is loving and kind while other times he is angry and loud. When Johnny’s father gets upset, Johnny calls it a ‘thunderstorm’. Johnny fantasizes in this story about finding a new and better daddy after they have a fight, but eventually he realizes that thunderstorms and fights don’t last forever and relationships can be repaired instead of replaced.
Children will relate to Johnny and his mixed feelings towards his father that depend upon the father’s mood; they may also feel sometimes like they want a new father, just like Johnny. The language used in this story is accessible, although some parents may object to the line where Johnny calls his father ‘stupid’. Some of the language is also a little stilted, but this is likely due to the translation, and the illustrations make up for any language issues.
The illustrations in colored pencil and acrylic are a strong part of the story and really tell the story more than the words do. The pages with the happy daddy are colorful and full of smiling characters. The pages with the angry or tired daddy are darker, mostly blues and reds. They are also full of shadows and sad faces. There is a big distinction in the illustrations between the two sides of Johnny’s dad. It is also interesting to notice the transformation of the father as well. As he gets more upset, he becomes hairier and more ape-like, and, as a fight is resolved, he becomes less hairy and looks more and more like Johnny’s dad.
This book’s real strength lies in its illustrations and the juxtaposition of the two sides of the father’s personality, the latter being something with which most readers will identify. Overall, Applesauce is a good addition for libraries, particularly public libraries as it is aimed at younger readers.
Carla Epp is a librarian with Winnipeg Public Library.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.