Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship

illus. by author. 32p. CIP. Putnam. Aug. 2012. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25191-7. LC 2009046706.
K-Gr 2—Mac is a shiny red apple with small, sticklike arms and legs. After he is caught napping in the rain, a little green worm emerges from his left temple, and the two hit it off immediately. They have great fun together and enjoy a variety of activities-until the other apples call Mac names and say he has worms. When the name-calling continues, Will disappears, leaving only a message scratched in the dirt. Going back to his old life, Mac realizes there's a hole in him that he cannot fill. He searches everywhere for his friend, realizing that "he'd rather be a Bad Apple with Will than a sad apple without him. "A variety of insects witnesses their reunion, as does a kind yellow apple. In a final nocturnal scene, as a smiling Mac floats in the watering hole, Will reads aloud by the light of two fireflies. The cheery, cartoon illustrations are done in oils on canvas. Despite its attractive artwork and clever puns, it is more than a tad unsettling to see the worm eating through the apple's skin. Unusual friendships between a worm and another creature are better depicted in Doreen Cronin's Diary of a Worm (HarperCollins, 2003). Youngsters may fondly recall Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar, eating through one red apple, but the idea of a friend eating a hole in another friend's head is disturbing. Wormy apples really do rot.—Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
After the other apples tease Mac about his best friend and resident worm, Will, the latter, not wanting to be a burden, flees. (Mac ultimately finds him.) There's not much to the punning ("bad apple"; "bookworm") story, but Mac's despondency without Will is vivid--and funny. One illustration shows heartsick Mac painting a still life full of wormy apples.

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