** Warning- This post is long**
Mr. Peabody’s Apples (2003), written by Madonna and illustrated by Loreen Long, was the perfect book for my class. Lately, I’ve been having problems with the students being little busybodies and starting stuff. So, when I found this book, I knew that it was simply a godsend. I am so impressed with Madonna’s writing. I read another one of her books, called The English Roses, and was quite impressed with that one also . She has written five books in all. I plan on reading them all, but for now, on to the review.
One of my students, Tag, is one of the nosiest little people I have ever met in my life. As a result, he is always in someone else’s business. I have been talking to him, but old habits die hard. So, I decided to use this book to communicate my message. Another one of my students, Nu, who I’ve been having much trouble with, of late, also has a bad habit of fabricating stories. I have been talking to him with little luck. However, he responded to this story. Whenever he said something that even sounded like he was going to tell an untruth, I reminded him about Mr. Peabody’s Apples.
The story begins with a very curious scene. You see a bunch of boys on the baseball field. They appear to be fighting. However, upon closer inspection, you can see that they are, in fact, playing baseball. I pointed this out to my students.
“What are they doing?” I asked.
“They’re fighting,” they said.
No. Look again! They’re playing baseball.
“You’re right,” they said, “they are playing baseball.”
After that, we are introduced to Mr. Peabody and his Little League team, who never really won a game, but no one cared because they had such a good time playing.
Readers are also introduced to Billy Little who loves baseball more than anything and also thinks that Mr. Peabody is the greatest. After each game, he would always stay to help pick up all the bats and balls. And when they were finished, Mr. Peabody would smile and say, “Thanks, Billy, good job. I’ll see you next Saturday.”
Then Mr. Peabody would walk home. On his way, he stopped, picked up the shiniest apple, dropped it in his bag and walked away with it. What? Tommy Tittlebottom watched as Mr. Peabody walked away. Without paying!
So, what did Tommy do? He got on his skateboard and rushed to tell his friends. This has to be a fluke. It cant’ possibly happen again, right?
Well, the same thing happened the next Saturday. On the way home, after Mr. Peabody waved to people he knew and they waved back, he went to Mr. Funkadeli’s fruit market, picked up the shiniest apple he saw and dropped it in his bag. That was all Tommy and his friends needed to see. They not only rushed home to tell all of their friends, their parents, and their parent’s neighbor. That was basically everyone in Hapville. So, what do you think happened next?
Next Saturday, no one showed up to the game, but Billy Little who told Mr. Peabody what Tommy, his friends, and everyone are saying about him. This was evident in the people’s attitudes as he walked down Main Street and waved to those he knew. The problem was that some of them didn’t wave back, while some pretended they didn’t even see him.
After Mr. Peabody straightens everything up with Billy & Mr. Funkadeli, Billy runs to find Tommy to explain everything to him. Mr. Peabody tells Billy to tell Tommy to come to his house when he’s finished.
Tommy comes to Mr. Peabody’s house, but Mr. Peabody has a curious request. He wants Tommy to bring a feather pillowcase. Tommy agrees, goes to Mr. Peabody’s house and… What happens after that, you ask! Well, I guess you’re just going to have to read it and find out for yourself.
This book is fantastic. The artwork is out of this world, and the message doesn’t just hit you over the head. It’s very subtle. I had to make my students think about it. You will too once you read it.
I would recommend this book to 3rd grade and up if you’re reading it to teach children about gossiping, being busybodies and such. I’m going to cheat a little on this one and give you a hint as to the ending. Look at the book cover above and think about what they’re doing. What do you think Mr. Peabody’s lesson to Tommy could possibly be?