apple pie ABC


Books For Keeps, Sept 2010

According to the Opies, the nursery rhyme ‘A was an apple-pie’ was ‘well known in the reign of Charles II’ and by the nineteenth century ‘was a favourite for ABC instruction’. Kate Greenaway’s A Apple Pie, for example, which was published in 1886, introduces the letters A to Z while following the fortunes of an apple pie. Now we have Alison Murray’s version, Apple Pie ABC.

The (A) apple pie has been made and, while (B) baking in the oven and then (C) cooling, it attracts the attention of a small dog. While his owner sternly keeps him away from the pie, the dog devises a clever way to sneak in and tip it off the kitchen table so that he can gobble it up. Murray approaches her narrative with a lively wit so that the reader identifies, via action sequences and lively juxtapositions with the dog and its stratagems.

Murray’s background in textile design serves her well as an illustrator. There is clear typography (each letter of the alphabet given in upper case against a plain background) with elegantly pared down illustrations distinguished by tones made with patterns and textures. The book is printed on satisfyingly thick stock with a matt finish. Pleasure is increased with an interesting and challenging choice of words, as in (O) ‘ogle it’ and (P) ‘pine for it’. As befits a book about apple pie: delicious!

The Independent, 11 July 2010

Alison Murray's Apple Pie ABC coaxes an old text into brilliant new life, with each page showing the same puppy slavering over a delicious-looking pie before finally giving way to temptation. Rarely can the alphabet have been presented in a more child-friendly way.
» read it here

The Financial Times, 25 June 2010

A puppy is determined to get his paws on the freshly baked pie sitting on the kitchen table. His young owner is equally determined that he won’t. Lovely 1960s-retro illustrations are matched with a cunning use of the alphabet to spell out the pup’s various efforts to obtain his prize.
» read it here

The Sunday Times, 18 June 2010

Alphabet books are always more interesting with a narrative, and Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray tells the story, in phrases that each begin with a consecutive letter, of an endearing dog who is determined to taste a newly baked pie. Parchmemt coloured pages and lino-cut images in muted shades give this neatly designed book traditional warmth.

Story Time Books For Kids, June 2010

Alphabet books need something special to stand out from the many already available. This one by Alison Murray differentiates itself by telling the story of an apple pie from a dog’s perspective. No “A is for…” here, just a story, beautifully illustrated with a limited pallette, mainly blue, grey, red, orange and white. Some pages at random give the sense: “Apple pie…eager for it.. find a crumb of it… in trouble.. not giving up… ogle it… pine for it… ready… steady… time to go for it.. underneath it.. whoops… yum yum…zzzzzz go to sleep and dream of it. In hardback only at present, but what a lovely present it would be.
» read it here

You Me Baby, May 2010

This gorgeous and quirky ABC book is set to become an instant classic. The illustrations are sparing and full of character and the whole book has a gloriously retro feel which makes you think you’ve known and loved this adorable and mischievous little dog for years. Young children will enjoy the naughty dog that is determined at all costs to steal his mistress’ pie and parents will not tire at retelling this delightful tale night after night. With a deft, succinct handling of story and gloriously expressive characters, Alison Murray is a name to watch out for in the world of illustrated books for young children.
» read it here (on p63)

The Book Bag, May 2010

Take one traditional rhyme (A was an apple pie, B bit it...), mix it up a bit with new words, add a pinch of sweet girl and a dash of naughty dog, and you've got a recipe for... well, a unbelievably cliched first line in a review from me, but also a super book.
» read it here

Angels and Urchins, May 2010

Alison Murray's illustrations are utterly delightful. Sure to become a nursery classic.