the super scrumptious apple pie 4th of july giveaway!

Just because you’re the best looking, smartest, most loyal blog readers ever who deserve nothing but the best, we’re giving away 3, count’em, three (!) signed copies of this wonderful picture book, Apple Pie 4th of July, written by award-winning author/poet Janet S. Wong and illustrated by Caldecott Honor Winner Margaret Chodos-Irvine!!

*cartwheels* *back flips* WooHoo!

Apple Pie is the story of a young girl whose parents own a convenience store. Open every day of the year except Christmas, they sell things like soda, potato chips, milk, candy bars, and best of all — Chinese take-out. *licks lips*  

So what’s the problem?

It’s the fourth of July and the girl is feeling left out and put out, because she hears the parade boom booming down the street and smells her neighbor’s apple pie baking upstairs, and what are her parents doing? Cooking chow mein and sweet-and-sour pork!

(click for Chicken Chow Mein recipe)

This is America! Don’t they understand? Nobody eats Chinese food on the 4th of July!

And she’s right! All day long, customers buy other things — matches, ice cream, ice. No one touches the egg rolls. No one wants the noodles.

But later that afternoon, something unexpected happens. Two people come in to buy Chinese food! Good thing her parents have made fresh batches of everything because more and more and more people keep coming in for Chinese take-out. After they finally close the store, the girl and her parents go up to the roof to watch the fireworks and eat their — apple pie!

(click for Sweet and Sour Pork recipe)

This simple heartwarming story addresses the need to belong, living between cultures, and finding a community. It’s also a great reminder to everyone that America is both apple pie and Chinese food — and a lot of other colorfully delicious things. The definition of what it means to be an American broadens every day; we must keep our minds and hearts open, embrace the differences, and meet each other halfway.

Also cool? The story was inspired by a real incident. In a Reading Rockets interview, author Janet Wong says:

I wrote Apple Pie Fourth of July because my parents actually did own a minimart that sold Chinese food to go. This minimart that they owned was in rural Oregon. I was not a child at the time, but I…You know, you’re always a child of your parents, right? You could be 35 years old, you’re still the child of your parents. So when I would go to visit them and bring my son to go fishing with Grandpa, they would go fishing and I would work in the store.

And so I spent a fair amount of time in the store. And one day, well it happened to be Fourth of July, 1996, I called my father and he answered the phone, Tri-City Market. So I knew he was at the store. He had the same phone number for the house and for the store. So, Tri-City Market. I said, Hi Tri-City Market. Pretty slow today, huh? And he said, oh no, oh no, it’s busy. It was the Fourth of July, right? He said, it’s busy. I said, ice, matches?

Cause I was thinking, well, people are having barbecues, you know, what do they need. He said, oh no, Chinese food. I said, Chinese food? Hello? And I actually said to him, hello, do you know what day it is today? This is the Fourth of July, an all-American holiday. People are cooking burgers, hot dogs, and you’re cooking Chinese food? And he said, yeah, and it’s busy and I got to go, bye. And he hung up the phone.

And I thought, oh, I never would have imagined, in rural Oregon, in a county where there are only a handful of Asians, that Chinese food-to-go would sell. And so I wrote Apple Pie Fourth of July as my apology, as my public apology, because in the book, the girl in the beginning is glum. She can’t believe her parents are so un-American as to cook Chinese food on this all-American holiday.

And yet by the end of the book she’s really surprised because the community, the people in the community have come in and they’re buying Chinese food. They’re buying Chinese food-to-go. And, you know, I think that there, again, authors are not supposed to have ‘message-y’ books and we’re not supposed to be preachy, but I am really happy that I was able to put a message in that book. And to me the message is twofold: On the one hand, to the child who feels left out — and it doesn’t have to be to a child who feels left out because she’s Chinese, all right — but to a child who feels left out, the message is: look around. Look around. Maybe you’re not quite as alone as you think. Maybe you don’t really stick out. Maybe you do have something to offer. And then the message to the community, to the people around that child is, go ahead and surprise people, you know?

Do the unexpected. Look around. Embrace your community. Seek out what’s different and new and try it.



Leave a comment at this post telling us what food you’re most excited about eating on Independence Day. Extra entries for blogging, tweeting, FBing, etc. (mention in your comment).

Yes! You can also enter by sending an email with “Apple Pie” in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com.

Deadline: midnight (EDT), Sunday, June 10, 2012. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. I will mail the books out in time for you to enjoy them on or before the Fourth of July.


Want to know how Margaret created the lovely illustrations? Click here to learn a bit more about the printmaking techniques she uses for her children’s books.

Click here for the video of Janet’s Reading Rockets interview.

And now, wrap your lips around this:

(click for Cinnamon Crumble Apple Pie recipe)

Nom, nom, and Good Luck!


*Spreads from Apple Pie 4th of July posted by permission, text copyright © 2002 Janet S. Wong, illustrations © 2002 Margaret Chodos-Irvine, published by Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserved.

**Special thanks to Margaret Chodos-Irvine for providing the digital spreads for this post, and to Janet Wong for donating the books!

Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

21 thoughts on “the super scrumptious apple pie 4th of july giveaway!

  1. I was already hooked on the book and then I read Janet’s interview excerpt–love it even more! Food I can’t wait to eat on July 4? Macaroni salad from my mother’s recipe. Elbow macaroni, Miracle Whip, onion, pepper, lots of celery seed, paprika–that’s it! I can eat the whole bowlful myself.


    1. Yum, I love macaroni salad. In Hawai’i, you’ll find some on every plate lunch. I also loved the ones made by Japanese delicatessens. 🙂


    2. Oh, Candice, your comment makes me homesick for a long-ago time & place. So while you probably didn’t intend it that way, I’m grateful for your words…an invitation to taste that experience again, this time with you. Macaroni salad, mmmmm. Would you mind sharing just a spoonful?

      P.S. Thanks for hosting this contest. Whether I win or not, I’ve already received something precious. (But hey, I’d also love to win that lovely book!)


      1. Thanks for dropping by to comment, Melodye. Wouldn’t it be perfect to visit Candice and eat some of that macaroni salad? 🙂


  2. I can’t wait to eat stuffed peppers, french potato salad and lemon bread with pretzel salad for dessert but right now, after this post, I seem to have a craving for Chinese take-out and apple pie! Your blog is on my blog’s blog roll list. (that’s a lot of blog). I will tweet a link to this posting. Thanks for allowing us a chance to win this wonderful book by two talented individuals.


  3. My grandson is the apple pie lover, so when he comes to visit, a pie just appears! The book is wonderful, and to Janet, I like the message. Except sometimes when we want to have some kids experience it, like making ice cream in an old crank machine, there is no set menu at our house. We do different things every year. I love the illustrations too, & that cute page of the young girl on the stool is great. Thanks Jama for all, as usual. I have many good memories of homemade ice cream, so maybe this year is the time for it again!


    1. Oh yes, homemade ice cream! The first time I ever had any was my aunt’s peach ice cream. So good. And this was before the electric ice cream makers were invented :). I like the magical appearances of apple pie. Your grandson must have super powers.


  4. I love the review and interview excerpt. It is so interesting how critical it is for kids that they “fit in.” It makes childhood so much harder for so many kids – it did for me for sure!

    Favorite Independence Day food would have to be ice cream (which coincidentally is also a favorite food for almost every other day!) But I like what Margie said – Chinese take-out and apple pie sounds pretty good too!


  5. That book looks delightful, Jama. My handicapped younger sister—who is an expert in foods of all sorts and could be a restaurant critic—would adore it. Independence Day food? I’d vote for anything Chinese over American BBQ and even (especially in July) apple pie. Though I would probably vote that way in any season!


    1. Cool about your sister being such an expert! Didn’t realize you were passionate about Chinese food. Just like my dad :).


  6. Mmmm, totally craving sweet and sour pork now! This looks like such a sweet book.

    Favorite 4th of July fare would be giant bags of potato chips with onion dip, and grilled sausages. We eat the sausages on buns with carmelized onions. Tasty!


    1. Your 4th of July menu sounds totally decadent. Potato chips with onion dip are dangerous — no such thing as eating just a little :). Yum!


  7. Thanks for this opportunity! I loved the explanation and visual of Margaret’s printmaking technique. Apple Pie Fourth of July sounds like a wonderful book.

    Around New England many people can’t wait to dig into Strawberry Shortcake on the Fourth. That’s my choice, with fresh picked berries, homemade shortcake and real whipped cream.


    1. Yum! Did you know June 14th is National Strawberry Shortcake Day? Good excuse to eat some then as well as on the 4th :).


Comments are closed.