Silvia Sarhadian’s picture book aims to engage children in the practical use of mathematics as the title characters fetch 10 apples for a pie their mother plans to bake. Written in simple, direct language, it features colorful illustrations in which apples are labeled with numbers to illustrate the addition, simple division and counting necessary to complete the task.
For the most part, the story offers clear direction in how its audience should compute the mathematics. Tommy and Lilly pick six apples and put them on the ground. The apples are labeled from 1 to 6, allowing children to easily count along. “How many more do we need?” Lilly asks. The illustration shows four white apples next to the 6 red ones, allowing readers to see how many are missing.
Children will follow along without too much trouble, although the story stumbles occasionally and a bit of revision would make this offering even stronger. At the story’s start, for instance, Mommy seems to set up suspense when she warns the children to pick apples only from the tree’s lower branches. But no one ever takes a tumble, and the unnecessary suspense distracts from the math lesson.
Additionally, on the last page, Mommy reads her children a book titled Oh Wow, It’s a Pizza Party. The pizza reference — and the accompanying illustration of the children eating pie slices with their hands — makes readers wonder if the pie Mommy was preparing was actually a pizza, instead of an apple pie.
Finally, at one point, Lilly counts on her fingers to make a calculation. This could confuse young readers, who won’t understand how the apples are related to Lilly’s fingers.
Sarhadian’s notion that math can help in fun enterprises is appealing and laudable, and the book should find an audience as is. Still, some revision would better realize the mission of both author and illustrator as they seek to instill a love of mathematics in young readers.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.