Some books are for fun others for education and How Do Apples Grow? combines both. Author Betsy Maestro follows a year in the life of an apple tree with a focus on the flowers and fruit. She goes into considerable detail on selected topics with labeled diagrams included to illustrate the points. Aimed at children in the primary grades, the text is written in simple language with a straightforward approach.
A picture of a snow covered orchard in winter begins the story by telling us that tiny leaf buds and flower buds are waiting to open. We see the trees leafing out and flowering in spring, and details of buds, and flowers showing sepals stamens, pollen, pistil, and ovary, all accompanied with labeled diagrams. The author explains pollination and the role of bees, fertilization, and the stages of fruit development pointing out interesting features of a mature apple such as the remains of the flower on one end, and the five compartments that contain the seeds. She goes on to describe how a tree uses the sun to make sugar to feed the fruit and how apples change color when they ripen ending with fall when the trees lose their leaves and new buds form.
The botany lesson in the book is well done giving the facts without confusing details. The softly colored illustrations done in pencil and watercolors add to the pace and meaning of the text. The choice of apple as an illustration of fruit formation may be a bit misleading to a child because it is an accessory fruit rather than a fleshy ovary wall that is more typical. Still, an excellent book with a very fine lesson on how flowers give way to fruits.
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