Polly Portman was a natural born pie maker. When she was little, even her mud pies were a cut above what anyone else in the sandbox was doing. Recognizing talent, Polly’s mother, Hester Portman, bought her daughter a little wooden rolling pin, set her on a tall red kitchen stool, and taught her how to roll out her first piecrust.
As Polly grew, so did her pie-making skills…Polly had a gift for baking pies, and she poured her heart and soul into every one she made…So when her parents passed away, leaving everything they had to Polly and her younger sister, Ruth, Polly set aside half of her inheritance to live on, and the other half she invested in a dilapidated old storefront.
Downstairs she built the pie shop she had always dreamed of having. It wasn’t much to look at, just a big room with a long wooden counter, a couple of tin pie safes, and a secondhand oven she’d picked up at an auction, but as far as Polly was concerned, the place was perfect. Being a humble person, she gave her pie shop a humble name — PIE.
11-year-old Alice is fortunate to have Polly Portman for her aunt. Polly Portman’s pies have become famous the nation over, winning the granddaddy pie award of them all — The Blueberry Award — for thirteen years running. Ever since she can remember, Alice has basked in the warmth of Polly’s love as she’s helped her out in the pie shop. Sadly, Polly has just passed away, and incredibly, the death of this sweet, generous woman leaves the whole town in a sour-apple turmoil.
The crux of the problem is this: In Polly’s will, she’s left her top secret recipe for her out-of-this-world piecrust to her…cat! Of all the nerve! Alice’s mother has been bitterly jealous of Polly’s successes all these years, and flabbergasted that Polly has refused to make as much money as possible on her pies, passing along some of the excess to her. Now that Polly’s gone, she intends to elbow her way to pie prowess and make some serious money.
Meanwhile, how is Alice supposed to fulfill Polly’s wish that she care for her beloved but cantankerous cat, when he mysteriously disappears? How will the town survive without the hordes of tourists coming to sample Polly’s pies? What can possibly soothe the tempers of so many townspeople, all madly attempting to become the next master pie baker? Who on earth has broken into and ransacked the shuttered pie shop? And what is making the sinister sounds outside Alice’s window at night?!
Crimes to solve. Mysteries to be gotten to the bottom of. Unappetizing pies to sample. Cats to locate. That’s just part of what Alice has to manage, so it’s a very good thing she’s got her pal Charlie Erdling to assist her. Even so, they have a wild and wooly time of it before the pieces finally fall into place.
Sarah Weeks has written a deliciously clever story here, with its pie-centric mystery to solve, and a townful of vivid characters to meet along the way. It’s nicely concocted for 9-12 year old girls.
As a happy, tasty bonus, each chapter is preceded by a pie recipe, which Weeks has collected from friends and family members across the country. Brilliant! You can bake 14 scrumptious pies, from all-American Apple to the offbeat Peanut Butter Raspberry Cream number that concludes the story.
Personally, I’d skip the Epilogue, which seemed pitched to much older readers to me and rested awkwardly on such a happy ending, but don’t let that keep you from this really enjoyable story.
Here’s the Amazon link: Pie