Reviews for Was Once an Apple Pie

Booklist Reviews 2005 August #1
PreS-K. Caldecott Honor artist MacDonald has adapted and illustrated Edward Lear's beloved 1871 nonsensical alphabet.This engaging read-aloud is certainly fun; Lear's adapted jolly singsong alphabet goes Technicolor with Eric Carle-style cut paper collage illustrations, mostly of friendly-looking animals. Unfortunately, however, some of the oomph has been extracted from the wonderfully quirky, time-tested poem. The Great King Xerxes entry, so mighty and intriguing in the original, is replaced by a more milquetoast rhyme about an ox (and no, ox is does not start with x.) Cat replaces Lear's cake with a string of adjectives (catty, batty, matty, catty) instead of the clever, action-oriented "caky / baky / maky / caky / taky / caky, Little-cake!" Pump replaces pig, unicorn replaces ur n, and zebra replaces zinc, as if children won't be intrigued by objects they may have never seen. Poetry purists, reach instead for Vladimir Radunsky's An Edward Lear Alphabet. Nonpurist book lovers and preschool storytime readers, embrace this colorful introduction to Lear's classic poem. ((Reviewed August 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
This adaptation of Lear's alphabet ditty retains most of the original verses but adds more animals and changes some unfamiliar words (e.g., Lear's urn is now a unicorn). Purists may complain, but others will enjoy this updated version of Lear's silly-sounding nonsense rhyme. MacDonald's eye-catching cut-paper illustrations are set on dramatic white space. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2005 August #1
MacDonald gives Lear's 1871 collection of 26 nonsense rhymes a fresh take in this fun-filled alphabetical frolic. Hilarious, tongue-twisting rhymes lend themselves to wild interpretation and repetition. "A was once an apple pie, pidy, widy, tidy, pidy, nice insidy, apple pie!" is followed by "B was once a little bear, beary, wary, hairy, beary, taky cary, little bear!" Colorful, simple hand-painted cut-paper illustrations on a clean white backdrop ground the rhymes, providing visual links from one to the other. The wary, hairy little bear from the letter B curiously peers down at a tidy, "nice insidy" apple pie from the letter A. A blue jay from the letter J, a kite from the letter K, and a lark from the letter L aerially interact in one double-page spread, while the hefty ox from the letter X and the pack-carrying yak from the letter Y meet along the road in another. Action-packed antics and whimsical verses guarantee an upbeat trip from A to Z. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 August #3

McDonald, whose Alphabatics earned a Caldecott Honor, runs the gamut from A to Z once again with assistance from the venerable and very silly Lear. "A was once an apple pie," muses Lear, alongside a portrait of a steaming, deep-dish delight, "pidy, widy, tidy, pidy,/ nice insidy, apple pie!" A bear sporting overalls stands over the pie with an expression of rapture on his face: "B was once a little bear,/ beary, wary, hairy, beary,/ taky cary, little bear!" Lear introduces a mostly animal cast (the exceptions, other than the pie, are a bottle of ink, a kite and a rose), and McDonald, working in painted cut paper, provides a lively crew. Her strong shapes (mostly set against white backgrounds), impressionistic detailing and the critters' exuberant expressions insure there are no shrinking violets among this menagerie. By varying character interaction and population among the spreads, she skillfully counterbalances the ruminative nature of the verse, injecting narrative drive into the poem. There's plenty of inspiration here for children just beginning to grasp the fun of wordplay. Ages 3-5. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2005 August
PreS-Gr 2-Lear's verse explored the outer limits of the English language in 1871. Now MacDonald uses her acute sense of design and whimsy to introduce another generation to Lear's work. Children will delight in the zany lyrics that, for full effect, should be read aloud and repeated by a young audience. The illustrations are folksy paper collages-think Eric Carle-with large, bright shapes. A perfect match for Lear's sheer daring, MacDonald's art sometimes spills across the margin of one page onto the next while making connections between one verse and the one on the opposing page. Opening the series of rhymes are A on one page, and B on the other; however, the illustration communicates something of both letters as a large Bear bends over to take a sniff of A's Apple Pie. The pictures communicate with one another and bring a new electricity and excitement to the gigglely, wigglely, gaity in which "A was once an apple pie,/pidy, widy, tidy, pidy/nice insidy, apple pie!" A must-have for highly spirited read-alouds.-Teresa Pfeifer, Alfred Zanetti Montessori Magnet School, Springfield, MA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.