About the Holiday
If you love apples, apple pie, applesauce, and all things apple, you probably have John Chapman to thank. John Chapman was a remarkable man who lived his values of kindness and generosity as he journeyed across the newly opened American frontier in the early 1800s. He is most commonly known as Johnny Appleseed for the apple seeds he planted and nurseries he founded across the country. Apples were a welcome crop—easily grown and stored for consumption throughout the year. He was well loved by the people he met on his travels, respected by the Native Americans, and gentle with all animals. Today we remember his contributions to the growth of America and his inclusive beliefs.
Written by Reeve Lindbergh | Illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen
As the poem opens, John Chapman approaches the simple Goodwin cabin in the woods. “Young Hannah Goodwin saw him first, / A stranger lean and lorn, / His face was thin, his feet were bare, / His clothing old and worn.”
Hannah first meets Johnny Appleseed when she is a little girl and he accepts the family’s invitation to dinner. He is an engaging source of entertainment, news, and stories about the American frontier, but he cannot stay long as he must continue his mission to plant apple trees across the country. Although John Chapman’s work takes him far away, Young Hannah heard the tales of him / All through her growing years / As he brought apples, sharp and sweet, / To other pioneers.
The stories are exciting and comforting. Johnny Appleseed walks through any weather, is trusted by Native Americans, and lives peacefully with all animals, all the while scattering seeds along his path.
As an old man John Chapman returns to the Goodwin house, now nestled among a mature apple orchard. “Old Hannah Goodwin saw him last / when many years had gone. / He came in by the orchard gate / A quiet hour past dawn.”
Again, he regales Hannah with stories of his adventures and how the trees he had planted helped families thrive and make America strong. “There was spicy apple cider now / Out on the western plain. / There was applesauce in Iowa / and apple pie in Maine.
Although Hannah never sees John Chapman again, she passes down his legacy to her children, just as we still do today.
The format of Reeve Lindbergh’s rhythmic and rhyming poem is a fitting tribute to the life of Johnny Appleseed. The lyrical lines flow as smoothly as the reader might imagine John Chapman tread across the Midwest plains and rugged West. With evocative language and a straightforward delivery, Lindbergh echoes the philosophy of simplicity and steadfastness that guided John Chapman’s life.
Kathy Jakobsen, one of America’s premiere folk artists, has embraced the story of Johnny Appleseed in stunning paintings of an America at her beginning. Depictions of rolling hills dotted with farms and trees, stone mills, horse-drawn carts loaded with apples, families at home and on the move in Conestoga wagons, as well as lush scenes of John Chapman interacting with nature and Native Americans portray the grandeur of America and the singularity of Johnny Appleseed. A quilt of small paneled scenes surround the text on each left-hand page, while the right page is fully dedicated to Jakobsen’s work.
Ages 5 – 8
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 1998 | ISBN 978-0316526340
Johnny Appleseed Day Activity
Cinnamon Apples Recipe
Cinnamon apples are a delicious side dish to any meal! This tasty recipe is fun for kids and adults to make together.
- 4 cups of apples, Macintosh or Granny Smith apples are good choices
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
- Mix brown sugar and cinnamon
- Peel and core 2 large apples
- Thinly slice apples
- Combine apples and cinnamon sugar/brown sugar mixture
- Stir until well combined
- Drizzle with lemon juice and stir again
- Cook apples on the stove at medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until desired texture