Apple Pie ABC

Another of B’s favourite books is Apple Pie ABC, by Alison Murray:

 A is for apple pie

Again (fortunately) it’s also one we enjoy reading with her. As with Oh no, George! the expressions on the dog’s face are excellent. E.g.:


I knew (because it says on the back cover) that the book is based on a traditional rhyme (although I hadn’t heard it before, as far as I can remember), and I was really interested to see an older version of it when I went to the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge in Canterbury the other Friday afternoon. The Beaney held a retrospective (called Letting in the Light*) of the work of Ben Sands, a Kent based printmaker, and his printworks, the Shoestring Press. One of the produced at the press was a version of the Apple Pie ABC called the tragical death of a. apple pie*:

a. apple pie
The work in the museum case. Apologies for poor quality photos (taken on phone)

This copy of the book (made using linotype rather than woodcuts) was produced in 1966, but the style harks back to the medieval period, I think:


Perhaps it’s just that the character in ‘d’ looks a bit like a monk.

I wonder whether Alison Murray was influenced at all by Sands. The way her Apple Pie ABC is illustrated reminded me a lot of printmaking even before I’d seen Sands’ book in the museum, and the font used in both books is quite similar as well. It’s probably coincidence, but interesting anyway. I just find it fascinating how things are connected through time and place (or space, not to get too Doctor Who-esque); so a rhyme originating in the 17th century* is passed down and made into art in the 2oth century and a much-loved children’s book in the 21st.

Apple Pie ABC


*The full title is the tragical death of a. apple pie who was cut in pieces, and eaten by twenty-six little villains

*According to the guidebook, this title was taken from Sands’ description of the act of cutting into a block of wood.

*Or at least this is when it was first mentioned in print.


2 thoughts on “Apple Pie ABC

  1. That looks like another brilliant book. It was interesting to read about the original apple pie rhyme. My first reaction was that it was a bit creepy, especially with the scary looking illustrations which seemed to be a feature of it! But thinking about it I can understand why it was so popular – I suppose it was because it was so memorable.

    By picturing the object (the apple pie) and then imagining doing something to it (biting it, cutting it etc) the child was building a mental picture of it. Because it was all about one object the rhyme was coherent and provided a challenge to learn the whole thing. It was a bit frightening which added an element of danger and it must have been interesting to watch the reaction of the person reading it to you! Much more exciting than when I learnt to read – a is for apple, b is for ball, c is for cat etc 🙂

    The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge was also very interesting to read about. You have some great places to visit where you live.

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