Wednesday, August 14, 2013
by Sarah Weeks
Scholastic Press, 2011
2014 Bluestem Nominee
Audience: Grades 3 to 5
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
Everyone loves Polly's pies, but no one loves Polly as much as her niece Alice. Alice and her Aunt Polly would spend every Saturday together baking pies for the shop and talking about anything and everything. So when Polly dies suddenly, Alice is left adrift, and the whole town is only thinking about one thing: pie. But when a strange item in Polly's will sets the town to talking, Alice starts to solve a mystery that will hopefully bring wealth and happiness to her family. With sweet characters, a tasty town, delectable pie recipes, and a savory plot, this book will leave readers hungry for more than just pie.
Sarah Weeks is one of those mavens of middle grade fiction that cannot do wrong. Like Kate DiCamillo, her books are just right for elementary readers. Alice is a very likable character, but she is caught in the middle of her talented and famous, yet exceedingly humble, Aunt Polly and her jealous, bitter mother. While her aunt encourages her songs and imagination, her mother wants to suppress those traits. While baking in the kitchen is a joy with her aunt, her mother should only be in the kitchen to make cereal. But it truly is Alice's overactive imagination that solves the mystery and brings justice to her aunt's memory.
Having grown up in a small town, I also liked the quaint town that was build around the pie shop, PIE. When the residents were describing the last time they ever had Polly's pie, it reminded me of the last time I had potato salad with my grandma's canned pickles. It's a little thing, and it's silly, but losing that one last connection was hard for the town. But the way they all honored Polly's memory, and how Alice helped with that was very special.
This is one of the better Bluestem books in my opinion. It is a good length for 3rd to 5th grade readers, it has a solid plot that while a little more appealing to girls will also find some males fans as well, and the programming possibilities are great too. Classes can make a pie, write a jingle, or sing a song to better connect with this book.
In the end, Pie is a sweet book that I would recommend for anyone looking for a light, happy read.