One Impossibly Large Apple Before Breakfast

h1 December 9th, 2014 by jules

“It stuffed and stuffed and stuffed itself,
and had not even eaten half when it choked on it and fell down dead!”

(Click to enlarge spread)


It’s challenging to write about new picture books at this time of year, given that it’s the end of a calendar year and most Fall books are well past initial release. Instead of looking at newer titles, everyone’s talkin’ Caldecott. (This is something I enjoy reading about, to be sure. If you’re not already reading Calling Caldecott, I’d recommend it.)

Today I’m going to jump way back, though, to 1965; if we don’t have as many new books to explore, let’s look at this one, originally published in Switzerland and created by a German author-illustrator. Just One Apple comes from Horst Eckert, whose pen name is Janosch. NorthSouth re-released this here in the States in September of this year.

In this be-careful-what-you-wish-for tale, a poor man named Walter longs for an apple tree with a blossom. He makes a wish one night, and not only is it granted, but he eventually ends up with a monstrously large apple. He figures that everyone in the kingdom is now his friend, but then he becomes paranoid, believing thieves will take it. “He trusted no one — and even his friends deserted him.” He can’t even sell the fruit when he takes it to market. (And in my favorite line of the book, he has to admit he doesn’t even like apples.)

Turns out, though, that a giant green dragon descends upon the town and taunts the kingdom. In the end, the king’s “detectives” feed the apple to the dragon, who chokes and dies on it. (See above.) The kingdom is saved. Walter was happy again — and this time only wishes for two small, basket-sized apples.

Jonosch’s art is new to me. This is one thing I love about publishers like NorthSouth — that they give us a window into illustrators from overseas with much different sensibilities. I’m struck by how Janosch’s art reminds me of John Burningham’s art (British) in more than one way.

Here are a couple more illustrations. Enjoy.

“As autumn came, the apple grew and grew. But when it was fruit-picking time,
Walter decided to wait. With each passing day, the apple grew bigger and bigger. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and to see full text)


“But in the market everyone scoffed at him: ‘You’re a liar and a braggart!
No one has ever seen such a huge apple. It can’t possibly be real.'”

(Click to enlarge spread and to see full text)


* * * * * * *

JUST ONE APPLE. Copyright © 1965 by NordSüd Verlag AG, CH-8005 Zürich, Switzerland. English translation cpyright © 1989 by NorthSouth Books, Inc., New York. This edition published in September 2014. Illustrations here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

3 comments to “One Impossibly Large Apple Before Breakfast”

  1. I’m not familiar with this title, but going to race out to get a copy right now! The painterly naive quality is really intriguing! I here a copy of Jonosch’s Musicians of Bremen, but the style is handled a little differently in that it’s executed in water color. Fun!

  2. I’m mad for Janosch! Thanks for posting!

  3. I love the colors here. Thank you for sharing!

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