Mr. Peabody’s Apples, adapted from a story from the sage Baal Shem Tov (the founder of Hasidic Judaism) is retold by Madonna and illustrated by Loren Long.
This story is a powerful reminder of the power of words. Loren Long (known for writing and illustrating the Otis series of books) brings a style of art to the story that immediately transports the reader into a world reminiscent of America in the 1950's. In the town of Happville, a child named Tommy sees his baseball coach, Mr. Peabody, take an apple from a grocery store without paying. Little does Tommy know that Mr. Peabody had already paid for the fruit earlier that day. By spreading the news of Mr. Peabody’s supposed theft, Tommy turns the team against Mr. Peabody.
It is a hard lesson to learn; without knowing the full story, you can do more harm than good. This is the damage that gossip, or lashon hara (Hebrew for “evil tongue”), causes. Tommy learns the hard way that it is much more difficult to take back lies than it is to spread them. The opposite of lashon hara is lashon tova, good speech. By the end of this story, Tommy would agree that lashon tova is the way to go. By apologizing and using the power of positive words, Tommy can right his wrong.
Our team felt that forgiveness and making amends are important lessons that readers of all ages can take away from Mr. Peabody’s Apple, and for that reason we heartily recommend this book.
June 11, 2021