Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pie, by Sarah Weeks

Title:  Pie
Author:  Sarah Weeks
Publisher:  Scholastic
Year:  2011
Pages:  183
Genre:  Realistic Fiction, Mystery
Themes:  Overcoming Loss, Family
Age Range:  3rd-6th Grade

Summary:  (from Goodreads)
When Alice's Aunt Polly, the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily fat, remarkably disagreeable cat, Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice.
Suddenly, the whole town is wondering how you leave a recipe to a cat. Everyone wants to be the next big pie-contest winner, and it's making them pie-crazy. It's up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness: Friendship. Family. And the pleasure of donig something for the right reason.

Everybody loves pie!  Sarah Weeks must have known that going into writing this book.  Each chapter starts with a real pie recipe that goes along with the plot, an interesting literary device that can add to the conversation with students-why did the author choose this recipe to go with this chapter?  And the pies look delicious!  Perhaps the best thing for me as the reader of this book is a bunch of new recipes to try for my next holiday desert!

Alice follows a line of children's book characters with parents that just don't understand her.  Alice's mother is a pretty horrible person for most of the book-greedy and high-strung and rather neglectful.  Her father is portrayed as a long-suffering spouse who really has no control over his wife's over-the-top emotional tendencies.  Luckily for Alice-and the reader-her mother has an epiphany towards the end of the story that leads to a reconciliation between her and Alice that helps round out the books overall sweet appeal.

Alice herself is plucky, a word almost always reserved for a young female character who shows spunk and determination.  Alice had both of those things in spades, and her desire to figure out who is trying to steal her aunt's pie crust recipe is the driving force of the novel.  But the book also explores issues of identity, grief, and friendship, making it ripe with possibilities for discussion and written response.

Teacher Resources:
Scholastic Interview with Sarah Weeks

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