What You Need to Know:|
• Preheat your oven before you start reading – you’re going to want some pie before you’re done with this book!
• Short and sweet, this book is a quick read for both boys and girls.
• There is a different pie recipe at the start of each chapter.
• Pie is a touching story of friendship and family, with a little mystery and a few compelling messages mixed in.
• The lifelong friendship of a boy and girl sets a nice example.
• The story takes place in the 1950’s, so there are no references to modern technology.
• Although a young girl deals with the loss of a special person, Pie does not dwell on sadness but rather celebrates life.
The story told in Pie is uncomplicated, innocent and easy to follow. Family relationships, community dynamics and the value of friendship are the highlights of the book. It also touches upon feelings like jealousy, insecurity and disappointment. With the backdrop of a very ordinary, serene setting, the quirky characters come to life and truly seem to pop off the pages.
In a very small town in Pennsylvania, in the 1950’s, a family and the surrounding community are shaken up when Polly Portman, their local legend, dies suddenly. Polly had been known, first locally, and eventually around the world, for her exceptional pies, winning the coveted “Blueberry Award” for thirteen years. She was a modest person though, who never felt comfortable with her fame and refused to charge for her pies. While the world mourns the loss of the pies, Alice, her niece, mourns the loss of a most special friend. Alice was closer to Polly than to Ruth, her own mother. Ruth was always jealous of their relationship and envious of Polly’s talent for baking. She had hoped to someday benefit from Polly's pies but when the Will is read, everyone, especially Ruth, is shocked to learn that Polly has left her secret pie crust recipe to her cat, Lardo! Alice is just as confused as everyone else by Polly’s strange choice, but tries to be understanding of Polly’s decision.
The story shifts back and forth as Ruth, trying to cope with Polly’s death, remembers the times they shared together. Although sometimes overwhelmed by sadness, Ruth becomes distracted by a string of unusual events set in motion at Polly’s funeral. A strange green car rolls into town, the pie shop is broken into and Lardo disappears. As the tale unfolds, Alice slowly develops a special friendship with Charlie, her classmate. Together they help each other to understand their own feelings and the events in their community. They confront the unconventional school principal, hiding a secret behind baggy clothing; the peculiar reporter, sneaking mysteriously around town; and the over-the-top mayor and his wife, shamelessly campaigning for office. Descriptive phrases, like the “tightly wound” mayor’s wife “brushing dandruff flakes off” her husband’s shoulders, the principal's “oily glistening quality to her skin that reminded Alice of a snake” and Ms. Desoto’s “yellow hair" "piled up on her head like a custard on a cone” are as clear as if they were illustrations. In the end, Alice comes to realize that while her aunt is no longer with them, Polly lives on in her heart and in the homes of all of her friends and family. Through Ruth's memories of Polly, several powerful messages are shared...
“It’s important to be grateful for the gifts we have.”
“Things do not change; we do.”
“The most important ingredient in a pie is the love that goes into making it.”
More subtly, readers learn not to jump to conclusions or judge others, to keep life simple, and to say thank you. The story wraps up neatly, although not necessarily predictably, with a touching epilogue at the end. While Pie seems like a quick snack, readers will savor the taste and remember this “treat”, long after they have finished eating...I mean reading.
2011, 192 pages
Character/Values, Cooking, Ethics, Family Life, Friendship, Good Book Club Selection, Illness/Death, Mystery
• Why is Polly so selfless about her pies?
• If you had a gift like Polly’s, would you act as she did or would you want to profit from your talents? Is either choice
• Have you ever jumped to conclusions and been wrong? What were the circumstances? Why is it sometimes hard to
avoid jumping to conclusions?
• What is it about Alice and Charlie that makes their friendship work?
• Why was Ruth so jealous of Polly? Do you know other siblings who feel that way?
• Polly says that things don’t change, we do. What, if anything, would you like to change about yourself?
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