16 Picture Books That Celebrate Apples

Oprn Drdsmr: Kid Lit Musings and Review by Cheli Mennella

A Bushel of Books about Apples

‘Tis the season when orchards bear autumn fruit, and cider is poured into eager cups, and the smell of pie beckons from the oven. ‘Tis the season for apples.

Hand-picked from dozens of titles, here’s a bushel of picture books that celebrate the apple. There are a few new books, books about the life cycle of apples, apple–picking, and America’s mythic hero, Johnny Appleseed, plus some apple arithmetic, and books with apple pies baked into their stories. Enjoy! 

New Apple Books

  • Apple follows the life of an apple from tree to harvest to snack to compost to sprout. The minimal text is paired with cut-paper illustrations whose bold lines and silhouettes are accented by the apple’s splashes of color. – Apple is written and illustrated by Nikki McClure. Published by Abrams Appleseed, New York, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-4197-0378-2
  • Bad Apple is a wacky little story about an apple named Mac who befriends a worm named Will. They become fast friends but other apples start teasing Mac and call him “rotten.” After a lonely day without Will, Mac realizes he’d rather be a bad apple and friends with Will than a sad apple without him. Bad Apple is written and illustrated by Edward Hemingway. Published by Putnam Juvenile, New York, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-3992-5191-7
  • Apples and Pumpkins [Hardcover] tells a simple, autumnal story about a little girl and her parents who take a trip to a farm to pick apples and choose a pumpkin. On Halloween, the pumpkin sits on the front stoop as mom hands out apples and the girl and her dad go trick-or-treating. – Apples and Pumpkins is written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell. Published by Aladdin, New York, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-44-247656-1

Apple Life Cycle

  • Apples, by Gail Gibbons, is an informational picture book aimed at younger kids. Simple text accompanied by color-washed drawings explain apple history, growth, harvest, and uses. – Apples is written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons. Published by Holiday House, New York, 2000. ISBN: 978-0-82-341497-0
  • How Do Apples Grow? describes the life cycle of an apple from spring bud to autumn fruit. Includes an introduction to pollination and the different parts of flowers. – How Do Apples Grow? is written by Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Giulio Maestro. Published by Harper Collins Children’s Books, New York, 1992. ISBN: 0-06-020055-3
  • The Life & Times Of The Apple is an illustrated collection of apple facts, including history, varieties, uses, growth cycle, and grafting. Pencil and watercolor illustrations help to clarify the topics with their detailed observation. – The Life & Time of The Apple is written and illustrated by Charles Micucci. Published by Scholastic, New York, 1995. ISBN: 978-0-53-107067-3


  • In Apple Picking Time, an entire community comes together to harvest apples, and young Anna is determined to fill an entire bin on her own. Illustrations done in autumnal tones help set the seasonal mood and soft tone. – Apple Picking Time is written by Michele Benoit Slawson and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray. Published by Dragonfly Books, Crown Publishers, New York, 1994. ISBN: 0-517-58971-0
  • Up, Up, Up! It’s Apple-Picking Time tells how two children visit their grandparents’ orchard and help with harvesting apples, making cider, and working the road-side stand. Colorful paper collage illustrations help create a celebratory feel. – Up, Up, Up! It’s Apple-Picking Time is written by Jody Fickes Shapiro and illustrated by Kitty Harvill. Published by Holiday House, New York, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-82-342166-4

Apple Legend

  • Johnny Appleseed, by Steven Kellogg, threads together incidents from the real life of frontiersman, John Chapman, with those inspired by Chapman’s life as the folk hero, Johnny Appleseed. Detailed illustrations fill the pages and provide plenty of great visual pickings. – Johnny Appleseed is written and illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Published by Morrow Junior Books, New York, 1988. ISBN: 0-685-06417-5
  • This version of Johnny Appleseed uses rhyming verse to spin the tale of one of the most gentle and generous mythic American heroes. The folk art type paintings are rendered in deep, rich tones and the quilt pattern borders depict vignettes of Chapman’s life. – Johnny Appleseed is written by Reeve Lindbergh and illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen. Published by Little, Brown, & Co., New York, 1990. ISBN: 0-316-52634-7
  • Johnny Appleseed: The Legend and the Truth weaves together short verses, narratives, and straight facts to show the different dimensions of John Chapman’s life and legend. Rich paintings by Jim Burke help bring Johnny Appleseed to life. – Johnny Appleseed: The Legend and The Truth is written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Jim Burke. Published by Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-06-039135-9

Apple Arithmetic

  • In the counting book, Ten Red Apples, farm animals eat apples from the tree while the farmer and his wife hope there are some left for them. Bold colors come forward on characters which look like hinged wooden puppets. – Ten Red Apples is written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins. Published by Greenwillow Books, New York, 2000. ISBN: 978-0-68-816797-4
  • Apple Fractions uses different varieties of apples to introduce the concept of fractions. Small elves populate the pages and devise ways to divvy up apples into fractionalized parts. – Apple Fractions is written by Jerry Pallotta and illustrated by Rob Bolster. Published by Scholastic, Cartwheel Books, New York, 2002. ISBN: 0-439-38901-1

Apple Pies

  • The Apple Pie Tree is growing in a family’s yard. The two sisters follow their tree through the seasons while robins make a nest and raise chicks in its branches. Illustrations, made from a painted and found-paper collage technique, are crisp and colorful. – The Apple Pie Tree is written by Zoe Hall and illustrated by Shari Halpern. Published by The Blue Sky Press, New York, 1996. ISBN: 0-590-62382-6
  • The Apple Pie That Papa Baked is a cumulative story tracing the beginnings of an apple pie a father bakes for his daughter. Folk style artwork in a trio of colors has a vintage look. – The Apple Pie That Papa Baked is written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Jonathan Bean. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007. ISBN: 978-1-4169-1240-8
  • How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World takes readers around the world, from Italy to Vermont to the Caribbean, in search of ingredients for an apple pie. Lighthearted and zany with illustrations that swing. – How To Make An Apple Pie And See The World is written and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. Published by Dragonfly Books of Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1994. ISBN: 0-679-83705-1

Originally published: Sept 2012


Cheli Mennella

Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.



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