No Ordinary Apple: A Story About Eating Mindfully, written by Sara Marlowe and illustrated by Philip Pascuzzo, is a simple children’s picture book that tells the story of schoolboy Elliot and his neighbor Carmen as they explore mindful eating together. Elliot, like many hungry children before him, is at first unimpressed with Carmen’s suggestion of an apple, rather than junk food or candy, as an after-school snack. Yet his wise older neighbor encourages him to slow down and fully explore the apple with all of his senses. Elliot is immediately intrigued as he looks closely at the apple’s color (“He noticed that some spots were pure red, some were green, and others were a little brown. . .‘I guess it isn’t just red!’”), how it feels (“smooth. . . bumpy. . . hard. . . soft”), how it smells (“fruity. . . like flowers. . . springtime”), and even how it sounds. Finally, the boy gets to taste the seemingly familiar fruit, noticing: “. . . it was the most appley apple ever!” As Elliot learns to appreciate the simple act of eating an ordinary apple, what happens, of course, is the magic of mindfulness.
One can easily imagine parents, teachers, or anyone who spends time with children, reading aloud this book in order to introduce the idea of mindful eating, and then passing around a basket of apples. The bright and cheery illustrations will appeal to children and adults alike, as will the way Marlowe manages to capture both the simplicity and depth of this elegant introductory practice. Like Elliot, young readers will be encouraged to experience mindfulness for themselves, through the lesson of finding the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary.
Christopher Willard is a clinical psychologist and learning specialist in the Boston area. He leads workshops for professionals on bringing mindfulness to youth around the world, and is the author of the book Child’s Mind (Parallax Press, 2010). He has two books forthcoming in 2014.
From the Spring 2014 issue of Inquiring Mind (Vol. 30, No. 2)
© 2014 Christopher Willard