by Mathieu Lavoie – Phaidon, 2016
ages newborn to 8 years / funny, imagination, language
You know you’re on a winner when Ivy (who is all of 3-years-old) can pick up a book, ‘read’ it to you all by herself, get the story more or less right, and laugh out loud at the end.
That's Toto’s Apple. It's an outstanding book.
With just a few words and some very self-explanatory graphic pictures, it tells a story about resilience, sticking to a task, following your dreams and looking for the good in life—all the while building to a great punch line.
Toto, who’s a no-guts-no-glory sort of worm, is willing to try pretty much anything to get to an apple hanging high in a tree.
After a few failed attempts, Toto appears doomed to failure when Didi comes along, plucks the apple and starts to eat it.
But when Didi is distracted by a plane and momentarily drops the apple:
“Toto knows that it’s now or never.”
Toto dives into the apple—and what happens next is both funny and unexpected!
Here's why I love Toto's Apple:
The artwork is simple and graphic and still manages to convey all of Toto’s emotions. It’s uncluttered with clear lines, making it brilliant for young children and babies. It’s modern and funky though—so it’s appealing to the adults reading to them.
There are just a few words on each page, so early readers are able to remember-read quickly.
It’s funny and there’s a little bit of gross factor, which does seem to appeal to all ages.
Toto is a worm with determination and grit and imagination—all good qualities to read about.
The ending is not what we imagine Toto had in mind, but Toto is happy. And so are we.
A couple of small reading hints:
Ask a child to read Toto’s Apple to you—if they hesitate you could model the first page or two and then let them go on.
Also, Toto is a worm—the very definition of a non-gendered character—but you may still find yourself or your child assigning a gender, probably ‘he’. For slightly older children it might be worthwhile talking out that underlying prejudice.
And finally, all that really great kid-fun and learning aside, Toto’s Apple is a cool looking book that will also strike a chord for many adults.