When Alice's Aunt Polly 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 surly cat Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice. Suddenly Alice is thrust into the center of a piestorm, with everyone in town trying to be the next pie-contest winner ... including Alice's mother and some of Alice's friends. The whole community is going pie-crazy . . . and it's up to Alice to discover the ingredients that really matter. Like family. And friendship. And enjoying what you do. (goodreads summary)
Alice's Aunt Polly is a very special person in her life. She spends time with her on Saturdays watching and learning her special tricks to making the perfect pie. Her Aunt has also won the Blueberry award 13 years in a row with these amazing pies. Although, she is very modest and humble when it came to her winnings. Aunt Polly also loved to share her pies so much with the community that she opened a shop called PIE. She does something surprising with her new business and instead of charging people, she gives the homemade pies away for free. The community decides to bring ingredients to Polly in exchange and everyone has their own special favorite that she makes just for them. She is known by people from all over and has put the small town of Ipswitch, Pennsylvania on the map, since they come from just about everywhere for her delectable pies. One day, Aunt Polly unexpectedly passes away and in her Will she leaves her famous pie crust recipe to her cat Lardo and leaving him to the care of Alice. All the town residents, especially Alice's mother, is in shock as to why Polly would do such a thing and are determined to find out the secret to the pie crust recipe. They want to become the next winner of the upcoming Blueberry contest and make the best pie ever! But when Lardo goes missing, Alice teams up with her friend Charlie and the two find there may be more to his disappearance than they thought.
What I liked best about this book was that it was a simple, good old-fashioned story. It had a wonderful 1950's era based setting with humor, mystery and a wide variety of characters with personality. Alice had a very special bond with her Aunt Polly who was very generous and kind. She made pies "out of love and pleasure" as her reason for not charging for them when she opened the business. When Polly passed away, the story touches gently on her death and depicts Alice's feelings of loss well. Alice's mother was very jealous of Polly and her fame though. She was outspoken of her feelings towards her sister especially when the pie crust recipe was left to a cat. She was not very likable as a mother but I was glad to see that she did have some character development. I did sense Alice's loneliness and the need of a better relationship with her mother, especially after Polly died. But when Lardo the cat goes missing, it is up to Alice to find him and from there the story turns into a who-dunnit mystery. It unravels with a surprising twist and the story sends a message about family, friendship and finding your own special talents. I found it to be a cute heartwarming story that was quick-paced and easy-to-read. Every chapter also began with a pie recipe and a handwritten note of Polly's on it making the story feel realistic. The only thing missing was the recipe for the pie crust......I think this is a "just right book" for grades 4-6.~
Author: Sarah Weeks
Pub. date: October 2011, Scholastic Press
Hardcover, 180 pgs.