Apple Cores In Children’s Literature

I grew up on the Little Critter picturebooks by Mercer Meyer. When I look at them now they seem a little outdated, but only in that nice 1950s sort of way, and hey, aren’t people still making modern films set in that very strange period known as the 1950s?

One thing that bothered me when I was four, however, was the state of discarded apple cores. Mercer Mayer apple cores are no such thing: They are a total waste of apple.

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I admit that in this story the apple is meant as a present for the mother and therefore Little Critter may have deliberately left some flesh on the core, but I also remember apple cores strewn around on the ground which had no more than a few bites out of them.

Then again, apple cores are a myth. There’s no reason except for the cultural one why we eat apples to leave the archetypal core.

I don’t remember much about Pinocchio, but I remember someone being so hungry they ate an entire apple, core, seeds and all. A commenter writes on this post:

I remember as a child having the concept of real, actual, starving hunger come home to me for the first time in that book when Pinocchio refuses to eat the apple core, although Gepetto encourages him to, until he is so hungry that later he begs Gepetto for the core and skin of the apple.

I identify with that. I think I even tried eating the core and seeds, but only tried that once. Sometimes it’s the smallest detail that resonates.

Here’s a memorable few paragraphs from one of my favourite adult books, Larry’s Party by Carol Shields:

Larry loves to see a woman with raindrops in her hair.

And he loves to see a woman walking briskly while eating an apple, piercing the skin with her eager teeth. His first wife, Dorrie, was a daring eater of apples, grasping them firmly and gnawing them straight to their economical cores.

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