Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Who was Johnny Appleseed

Who was Johnny Appleseed

Josef Holub
Illustrator:  Anna DiVito 
For ages 7 to 11
Penguin, 2005   ISBN: 0448739689

So many stories have been told about the man who came to be called Johnny Appleseed that it is often difficult to separate fact from fiction. Luckily he was such a special person that many of his contemporaries wrote about him. We can thus piece together who he really was and what he really did during his lifetime.

We know that Johnny was born on September 26th, 1774, in Massachusetts and that he was the first child of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Chapman. The Chapmans were a poor family and soon after Johnny was born his father went to fight against the English in the Revolutionary war. When he came home many more children were born until there were twelve of them in all. It was hard being in such a large family when there was so little to go around so when he was twenty three Johnny left to join the many families who were heading west to settle on the new frontier. So off he walked, barefoot and with very few personal possessions.

Over time Johnny began to develop a pattern. When he found a likely piece of land he would plant some of the apple seeds that he had brought with him. As his orchards grew he also began to go from door to door selling his seedlings and seeds. The orchards Johnny began became very valuable for they could provide a family with lots of food, food which could last all winter long. Johnny became very important to the people who lived on the frontier for he gave them the means to grow food, he told them stories, and he passed on news.

In this very accessible biography young readers will get a picture of a courageous and peaceful man who found his own unique way to make the world a better place. Throughout the book the author provides lots of background information. Among other things he describes events of historic importance and he explains how apple trees grow.