Prather’s Pick: ‘Apple Picking Time’ has inspiring message |

Prather’s Pick: ‘Apple Picking Time’ has inspiring message

Diane Prather/For Craig Press
Prather's Pick, by Diane Prather

I love all kinds of children’s books, but I especially enjoy finding books with storylines that can provide inspiration for a variety of learning activities. This week’s softcover book is an example of that.

I found “Apple Picking Time” in the children’s room at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries. It was in a display with other autumn-themed books. This is not a new book, but it doesn’t matter; the story has a wonderful message, and when you’re finished reading it to (or with) a child, there are great activities to do, too.

“Apple Picking Time” was written by Michele Benoit Slawson and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray. It is a Dragonfly Book, published in 1994 by Crown Publishers.

The story is set in apple country — big-time apple country — in early autumn, when the mornings are crisp and the apples are ripe. Apple picking time is a big deal, because the apples in all the orchards have to be picked within three weeks, or they spoil. So, literally everybody drops everything and heads off to pick apples: Little kids, moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, even the sisters from the convent — everyone shows up to help pick the fruit.

Anna, a young girl and narrator of the story, and her family also help out. Anna’s father takes off time from the market, her mother lets her housework go for the day and Anna doesn’t have any school.

For Anna, this year’s picking season provides a personal challenge. She has grown a lot during the past year, and she hopes to pick enough apples to fill a bin by herself. If she does, she will get her purple ticket punched with a moon-shape.

The bins are large wooden containers that hold apples. When a picker fills a bin, he or she yells,

“Full,” and Dave, the foreman, comes with his tractor, picks it up and punches that person’s ticket. The reader learns how a picker balances a ladder while picking apples high in a tree.

There is fun during apple picking time, too. Everyone plays their radios. Lunch is served, picnic style, and there’s even a little time for dancing to the radio music.

Will Anna fill her own bin before nightfall?

The inside covers of the book are filled with ideas for fun learning activities, such as Purple Ticket Arithmetic. There’s a drawing activity, too, and an “experiment” to tell if the book’s young reader is growing. There’s even a “Dragonfly’s Delicious Apple Crisp” recipe. And, since there are so many different varieties of apples, an elementary class might do a taste test of favorites and graph the results. These are but a few ideas inspired by this book. It’s great!

“Apple Picking Time” can be found at the library, or you can order it through Downtown Books. The softcover book costs about $6.99.

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