“What will you discover when you’re exploring the woods?”
Archie’s Apple, written by Hannah Shuckburgh and illustrated by Octavia MacKenzie, is a work of art wrapped around an inspiring story that offers new delights on each perusal of the gorgeously rendered illustrations. The tale being told was inspired by true events. It tells of a young boy named Archie who discovers a new variety of apple, thereby making him famous. Except it isn’t a new variety but rather one that has simply not yet been classified by humans. It grows on a very old tree that has quietly existed for many, many years. Archie comes to realise that he cannot lay claim to the apple, or anything in the wood that is his natural playground. The flora and fauna are rightly available for anyone willing to look and appreciate.
Archie lives in an old stone cottage with his daddy. Each day after school he pulls on his wellies and goes to play in a nearby wood. He enjoys the changing seasons, watching as the plants and creatures go about their business. He has been well taught that it is good to observe but not to disturb.
When Archie spots an unusual looking apple lying on a path deep within the wood he takes it home to show his daddy. Experts are consulted and it is declared a new variety. This generates so much interest a businessman sees a money making opportunity. He declares that he can make Archie very, very rich.
“Let’s make this fruit bring home the loot! What do you say?”
Archie and his daddy don’t know what to say, unused as they are to this way of thinking. They find themselves being swept along in a tide of acquisitional interest. Once they remember what is truly valuable they find their voices again. Archie already had a life that many would treasure. His local woodland remains a trove of as yet undiscovered bounty.
Although presenting important issues the tale never becomes too moralistic. It may be written for children but there is much for adult readers to enjoy and relearn. Archie is a delightful character – it is pleasing to read of a child whose natural inquisitiveness does not lead to cruelty or destruction. His appreciation of nature is inspirational.
A beautifully presented book containing a story that is both interesting and engaging, one that will inspire its readers to explore and learn more about nature and their surrounds.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Little Toller.