When I chose the name "Granny Smith" for the generic old woman in An Apple Pie For Dinner, I simply thought it was a fun play on words for a character so passionate for pie. I had no idea there really was a Granny Smith behind those yummy green baking apples!!
Chef Graham Kerr (remember the "Galloping Gourmet"?) clued me in, I did some research, and the rest is, well, Apple Pie history.
The fascinating facts: Maria Ann Smith was born in England in 1799, but moved with her husband and children to Australia in 1838. The Smiths were farmers whose specialty was apples. In 1868, Mrs. Smith, also well-known for her fruit pies, developed a new type of apple. It's believed that she accidentally crossed a wild European crabapple with the more commonly grown orchard apple. The delicious new fruit was named the "Granny Smith" in her honor. Today, Granny Smith and her apples are celebrated annually in Australia with the Granny Smith Festival. (You can read more about Maria Smith at www.AnApplePieForDinner.com.)
To my delight, I was able to track down some of the real Granny Smith's descendants still living in Australia. My publisher kindly sent them copies of the book and the reactions have been wonderfully enthusiastic! I was so tickled to receive this beautiful photo, above, of two of Granny's youngest kin– great-great-great-great grandchildren – enjoying An Apple Pie For Dinner. Warms this author's heart to see those sweet faces so attentive to the book! Certainly, the best review of all! Many thanks to the cutie-pies' mum and dad for permission to post the shot.
And speaking of reviews, one from the influential Booklist is pretty awesome, as well. Here's an excerpt:
"From Granny’s lace cap and embroidered apron to her woven basket and fuzzy dog, the fascinating tactile details will have young and old poring over the pages. Complete with a pie recipe and notes from both the author and illustrator that cite the origin of the tale (the English folktale “An Apple Dumpling”) and directions on how to make bas-reliefs, the book is a delicious treat to be shared anytime."
Thanks, all, for the kind words and great pix! Please keep 'em coming!
And don't forget – if you'd like a free personalized, signed bookplate to stick inside your front cover, drop me a line at the website, www.AnApplePieForDinner.com!
Causes Susan VanHecke Supports
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
National Trust For Historic Preservation