HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Trail of Apple Blossoms
Author: Irene Hunt
Illustrator: Don Bolognese
Publisher: Silver Burdett Press, republished in 1993
ISBN-13: 978-0382243684 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0382243684 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0813672205 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0813672201 Paperback
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Hunt, Irene. Trail of Apple Blossoms (published in 1968 by Follett Publishing Company, 1010 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago, IL 60607). It is around 1807, and ten year old Hoke Bryant is travelling with his parents, Jason and Sarah, and two year old sister Rachel by Conestoga wagon from their old home in Boston, MA, to a new home in the Ohio Valley country. However, Rachel is very sick and won’t eat anything. The Bryants have already lost two other children between Hoke and Rachel, so they stop in Pennsylvania at the cabin of a little man named John Chapman who has planted a large apple orchard. Mr. Chapman’s knowledge of various herbs and foods enables him to help little Rachel to recover. As the Bryants finally prepared to leave, Hoke asked Chapman, known as Johnny Appleseed, if he might ever come further west and hoped that they would meet again.
The following year, Chapman did decide to go west and help the settlers plant more apple trees. For five years, he asked everyone whom he saw if they knew anything about the Bryants. Did they survive the journey with its dangers of Indian raids, blizzards, and floods? What happened to them? Will Johnny ever see Hoke again? Trail of Apple Blossoms is an absolutely wonderful story. It is not a biography of John Chapman but a fairly short work of historical fiction for young readers based on Chapman’s life, but I would recommend it for all ages. The front flap says, “Some events in the story are said to have happened; others could have happened. The story is told, not for history, but to point up a philosophy that forgot self, denied fear, and placed love for all living things as the ultimate good.”
There is one reference to putting tobacco in a pipe, but no bad or even questionable language occurs. Author Irene Hunt, who won a Newbery Honor Award in 1965 for Across Five Aprils and a Newbery Medal in 1967 for Up a Road Slowly, writes about how Johnny says, “the good God loves the gifts given by a crooked trunk as much as…the straight and beautiful;” talks about foods which “Providence in its wisdom has provided us;” declares a thing “of the Lord’s own doing;” and wonders if something were “the Lord’s own will.” John took his Bible with him on his journeys and often read to people from the Psalms such as, “The heavens declare the glory of God” or “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.” Apparently Silver Burdett Press reissued this book with new illustrations by Sherri Partridge.