Polly Portman single-handedly put Ipswitch on the map. Her untimely death came as a terrible shock, not only to Alice but to the whole town. People wept openly on the street, a mountain of flowers collected on the doorstep of the pie shop, and the good citizens of Ipswitch prepared to lay their beloved pie queen to rest (p 10).
When their twelve-time Blueberry Award-winning pie maker passes away, the inhabitants of the little town of Ipswitch find themselves bereft of their favorite pies and their town’s biggest attraction, the PIE shop. Strangest of all, Polly has left her famous but secret pie crust recipe to her blubbery, vicious cat Lardo and her cat’s care to her niece Alice.
Alice always enjoyed spending her Saturday’s baking with her Aunt Polly. She’s also enjoyed Aunt Polly’s peach pie but it isn’t her pies that Alice misses.
Meanwhile, the folks around town seem eager to take up the Ipswitch pie maker mantle. Soon, pies are cooling on windowsills all over town. Then, someone catnaps Lardo and the PIE shop is trashed. With help from Charlie, her classmate, Alice sets out to discover who is trying to steal her Aunt’s pie crust recipe.
WARNING: Reading this book will create an irresistible craving for pie, even unattractively named pies like green tomato pie.
With a simplicity and directness that belies its depth and wisdom, Weeks has created another highly readable, enjoyable book for young people. One part mystery, one part recipe and just a dash of romantic intrigue, this coming of age novel will leave its readers as delighted as anyone who’s ever tasted one of Aunt Polly’s pies.
I have to mention a particular passage that caught my eye. Weeks writes:
The Blueberry Award was established in 1922 to celebrate the most distinguished contribution to American pie making. Each year during the month of August, people from all over the country would box up their pies and deliver them to the Blueberry committee for consideration. The committee members would carefully evaluate the pies, “Blueberry Buzz” would spread as the top contenders emerged, “Mock Blueberry ” clubs would choose their own favorites, and finally on the first Monday in September, amid a great deal of fanfare, the Blueberry committee would announce the winner (p 28).
Does that sound like another award established in 1922? Do you know that Newbery is a perfect rhyme for Blueberry? Well played Ms. Weeks (pictured right, holding up a copy of the book she signed for me).
Advance Reader Copy | Oct 2011 | Scholastic | 192 pages | ISBN 978-0-545-27011-3 | $16.99