Apple Picking Time

Author:  Michele Benoit Slawson
Illustrator:  Deborah Kogan Ray


Sometime after the summer is spent but before the jack-o’-lanterns are lit, it’s apple picking time.

Most of the town are apple pickers and know they have only three weeks to get the fruit off the trees before it spoils.  Anna’s Grandpa, Grandma, Papa, and Mama are some of the pickers who have met outside of town in their cars and pickups even while the moon is still high in the sky.  All the families follow the narrow dirt roads, not stopping until they see the posted sign, “PICKERS WANTED,”  at the entrance to the apple orchard.

With canvas bags fastened around their backs, the pickers climb ladders, leaning into it for balance, leaving both hands free for picking.   This year Anna feels she has grown enough to fill her own bag, and earn a punch on her ticket from the foreman at the end of the day.   Every few minutes someone yells “Full!” and Anna knows a half-moon is being punched on a ticket for a picker.  By noon, Papa has three and Mama has two.  Anna has none.

Sharing lunch with her family on a quilt under the trees is a welcome break.  Papa fiddles with the radio and dances with Mama under the branches before the work whistle blows.  Filled with determination, Anna is back up her ladder. Twist! Snap! Twist! Snap!

Can Anna do it? Will she be able to fill her canvas bag by the end of the picking day? Will she earn a half-moon punch on her ticket? There is something truly wonderful about a child working hard, and being proud of themselves for what they have achieved through their own determination.

Mary Byrne Kline


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