Now that next year’s South Carolina Book Award nominees have been announced, you’ll likely be seeing a few more children’s books featured on this blog than you’re used to. I put these books on this blog and my elementary book review blog simply because I think these books will appeal to students in both upper elementary grades and middle grades, as well as some YA and adult readers. (And let’s all remember that the Harry Potter books were marketed as children’s books. Quite frankly, I judge anyone–no matter what age–who hasn’t read these works of awesomeness.)

I’ve already read and reviewed two of the books on the 13-14 SC Children’s Book Award Nominee list (Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick), and this weekend, I decided to read one more. My pick was Pie by Sarah Weeks. This was a really fast, easy read, but it pulled at my heartstrings a little bit…and it made me really want some pie. (I’m diabetic, so that’s not really a good thing.) It also contained a bit of a mystery that readers will be as eager to unravel as Alice, our totally relatable main character, was. Technically, Pie is a work of historical fiction (it takes place in 1955), but it doesn’t really read that way. In my opinion, this book is totally accessible to all readers, and almost everyone will be able to find something they can identify with.

Alice Anderson’s world is turned upside down when her beloved aunt, Polly Portman, passes away suddenly. To everyone else, Polly was the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, but Alice thought of Polly as her best friend in the entire world. She doesn’t really care how much everyone else missed Polly’s pies. Alice simply misses her Aunt Polly…until something happens that puts Alice–and her aunt’s cat Lardo–into the center of a mystery.

It seems that Aunt Polly’s highly coveted pie crust recipe was left to Lardo in her will. And Lardo was left in the care of Alice. Why would Polly–a very smart and not at all crazy woman–leave her prized recipe to her cat? How did she even do this? Of course, everyone is curious about this, but Alice is starting to think that someone is curious enough to commit crimes–like burglary and catnapping–to somehow get greedy hands on this recipe that her aunt valued so much.

Alice tries to take her concerns to her parents and even the police, but no one (except her friend Charlie) believes her. So Alice and Charlie do some investigating of their own. Suspects abound, especially since everyone seems determined to take Aunt Polly’s place as the Pie Queen of Ipswitch. It’s up to Alice to figure out who the real culprit is. Will she be able to solve the mystery? And what will she learn about herself along the way? Read Pie, a sweet mystery by Sarah Weeks, to find out!

With each chapter starting with a delectable pie recipe, I plan to really market this book to my students who frequently check out cookbooks. (A lot of kids are into cooking. Who knew?) This is a really sweet (pun intended) book that, yes, does contain a bit of a mystery, but also explores the bonds of family and friendship. It also teaches an important lesson about using one’s own talents and not worrying about what someone else may be good at or the recognition they may receive (a message that even I needed).

For more information about author Sarah Weeks and her books, including Pie, visit the author’s website. I just got a great idea from this site that I may try at my school next year. How cool would it be to have a mother-daughter book club for Pie and have participants bring in their favorite pies or try some of the recipes listed in this book? I just hope I can get someone to bring in a sugar-free pie!

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