Hopkinson, Deborah (2004). Apples to Oregon. New York: Scholastic.
This modern-day tall tale introduces young children to some of the trials and tribulations experienced by the early American pioneers. Fictional eldest daughter “Delicious” narrates the story and in page after page, humorously implies that her father’s fruit trees are more important to him than his own children. They face many of the same hardships you would find in books for older readers: crossing rivers and deserts, facing storms and freezing temperatures, but without the harsh realities kindergarten through fourth graders could wait a little longer to learn. Ingenious and determined Delicious comes to her daddy’s rescue time and time again.
The book includes a map of the United States clearly marking the Oregon Trail and it’s landmarks from Iowa (where the family’s journey begins) to Portland, offering an excellent lesson in geography. Apple facts help to incorporate science (did you know that fresh apples float because 25 percent of their volume is air?) Numerous plays on words and the example of a tall tale provide English lessons. Nancy Carpenter’s art work is hysterical, showing the precious fruit being protected by the passel of kids at all costs.
Incidentally, the first apple trees in Oregon really did come by a wagon with pioneer Henderson Luelling, his wife Elizabeth, and their eight children. Apples to Oregon was an ALA Notable Children’s Book as well as a School Library Journal Best Book in 2005 and a SCBWA winner in 2004.