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HUMBLE PIE by Jennifer Donnelly


by Jennifer Donnelly & illustrated by Stephen Gammell

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-84435-2
Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

A dynamite union of a debut author with a veteran illustrator teaches a wry lesson with a unique scheme. Theo was not a good boy. Although his parents spoiled him rotten, he didn’t appreciate anything. He never did chores or gave the dog a bite of food. And he ruined the strawberries for Baby Tom’s birthday cake by splattering them all over. One day, right after the berry incident, he finds his grandmother rolling out a pie crust bigger than a bedsheet and wonders what it is for. His grandmother says a little rhyme, “Flour, butter, salt say I, / Berries, cherries, pile them high, / Hush now, mother, don’t you sigh / Let the boy eat Humble Pie.” Just as Theo reaches in to pull out a plum, his grandmother deftly crimps the edges and seals him in the pie. He rolls away, and passes some schoolmates, who remember his meanness and won’t get him out. He rolls home, but everyone is celebrating Baby Tom’s birthday and the dog and cat roll him down a hill. He lands in a poor starving village, and they decide to bake the pie. Theo is truly terrified, but the baker stumbles while putting the pie in a huge oven, and Theo pops out. He races home, does the chores, pets the dog and cat, and chops the wood. “Looks to me like the boy got his just desserts,” says his grandmother. And the pie lasts the poor village for a year. Gammell’s (The Burger and the Hot Dog, 2001, etc.) unmistakable illustrations, full of mischief and all of his splattery details, hold just the right amount of waggish exaggeration and expression, and suit the antic wit of the telling perfectly. Yum. (Picture book. 5-9)