I first became acquainted with Helen Frost’s writing while reading books with a friend who was on the Newbery Committee. I loved Diamond Willow and had it on my short list for the award – not that my list counted with anybody. Consequently, I anticipated a good read in Applesauce Weather when I received the ARC from Net Galley.
Ripening apples would usually signal time for Aunt Lucy and Uncle Arthur to be on their way for a visit. As this year’s first apple falls, Faith and Peter question whether Uncle Arthur will come now that Aunt Lucy has died. Of course he does, beginning the story-poem that is told in the voices of Faith, Peter, and Uncle Arthur with “Lucy’s Song” giving introductions for each section as she tells her version of life with Uncle Arthur, a love story that began at ten and lasted into old age.
Humor tempers the emotions of nostalgia and grief as the family remembers Aunt Lucy. Uncle Arthur tells tales with a twinkle in his eye, especially the ones about how he lost his finger. In her song, Lucy says, “Oh, the stories I heard him weave – I never knew quite what to believe.” Neither do Faith and Peter. Every kid needs an uncle like Arthur just as he needs them. The telling and listening bring needed solace to the whole family.
Amy June Bates’s illustrations fit the mood of the story and personality of the characters and add the perfect finish.
So, how well did Applesauce Weather meet my expectations? When I finished the book, I turned back to the beginning and read it again. It won’t be my last time.