________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 16 . . . . April 15, 2005


Mile-High Apple Pie.

Laura Langston. Illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner.
London, UK: The Bodley Head (Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada), 2004.
32 pp., cloth, $24.95.
ISBN 0-370-32736-5.

Subject Headings:
Grandparent and Child - Pictorial Works - Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

***½ /4


My grandma lives with us now because she can't


She is not the wrinkled kind; she's the special

kind instead. She wears trainers with

yellow laces and she laughs very loud.

Grandma and Margaret spend a lot of time together. When Grandma has trouble recognizing the words in story books, Margaret helps her out. When she forgets the name of her cat, Margaret reminds her. Together, they plant sweet peas, giggle, sing, take naps and pick apples for mile-high apple pie. Grandma can't remember how to make her specialty any more, but she does remember what a fruit man once told her about the dark spots in apples:

"The bruise is best," she says. "All the sweetness in

the apple rushes to the soft brown bit...

We keep the bruised bit in our mile-high apple pie
Because Grandma remembered.

     Margaret's mother explains that Grandma's brain is all mixed up, that even if she can't remember Margaret's name, she still loves her. When Grandma goes away for a week, Margaret feels confused. Sometimes she wishes she could crawl into Grandma's lap, and sometimes she wishes Grandma didn't live with her family any more.

internal art

     Then there comes a day when Grandma forgets Margaret's name. Margaret is puzzled. She can tell Grandma her name, but how can she explain the special place she has in her grandmother's life? Suddenly she knows what to say. "I am Margaret," she says, as she crawls into her Grandma's lap. "I am your remembering."

     Laura Langston has written more than a dozen books for children including two for young adults, entitled A Taste of Perfection (2002) and Lesia's Dream in 2003. Her latest picture book, Mile-High Apple Pie is likely to bring a moistening of the eyes to older readers. In this bittersweet story of a very special relationship between grandmother and granddaughter, she has captured the voice of her young narrator beautifully. Finding pleasure in their small sphere, Margaret and Grandma are blissfully unaware of the sadness that lies in wait for them. In the end, Margaret comes to realize that loss of memory can never break the special bond she shares with her grandmother.

     Lindsey Gardiner's depictions of the apple-cheeked Grandma and her pig-tailed, freckle-nosed Margaret are immensely appealing. Grandma wears quirky clothes to go with her yellow-laced sneakers. Perhaps Gardiner's background as a textile designer has something to do with the variety of outfits in which she dresses her characters. In any case, her brightly coloured illustrations on softly textured backgrounds are a visual treat.

     A bonus at the end of the book is the inclusion of a recipe for Grandma's Mile-High Apple Pie, specially designed for an adult and child to make together.

     Mile-High Apple Pie is a perfect story to share with young listeners and will doubtless evoke some lively discussion on the subject of grandparents and remembering.

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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