Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Sarah Weeks
For ages 9 to 12
Scholastic, 2011   ISBN: 978-0545270113

The town of Ipswitch in Pennsylvania is very lucky because one of its residents, Polly Portman, is a Pie Queen. Ever since she was a little girl, Polly has loved to make pies, and everybody who has tasted her handiwork agrees that she makes the best pies. Her cream pies are silky, her fruit pies are full of fresh juicy fruit, and she has even created a pie recipe for people who are watching their waistlines.

For Polly, making pies is gift that she loves to share with others. Though she could have made millions by selling her pie recipes, she has always refused to do so. Instead, she opened a pie shop in Ipswitch and she gives away the pies she makes. She sincerely believes that the reason why her pies are special is because they are made with love.

Polly also gives her love to her niece Alice, who in turn loves her aunt Polly with all her heart. Alice spends many hours in Aunt Polly’s pie shop, talking to her and helping her to make her pies. And then there is Lardo, Polly’s much beloved and much cosseted bad-tempered cat. Lardo adores Aunt Polly, and dislikes everyone else.

One day, quite suddenly Aunt Polly dies. Alice is heart-broken, and everyone is town is pained by Aunt Polly’s unexpected demise. It is true that they will miss her as a person because she was kind and warm, but they will also miss her pies, and the revenue that her pie shop attracted to their town.

Alice’s mother, who has always envied her sister Polly, is hopeful that Polly’s secret pie recipe will finally be hers. She will sell it to the highest bidder and become rich. She soon finds out however that Polly did not leave the recipe to her. Instead, Polly left the recipe to Lardo, and she left Lardo to Alice. Alice’s mother is furious. How could her sister leave the precious recipe to a cat? How could she be so “selfish.”

Now that Polly is not around to keep winning the Blueberry pie contest, everyone in town goes pie mad. Unfortunately, no one, especially Alice’s mother, can make a pie that is contest worthy. Alice doesn’t really care about this though because she is missing her aunt terribly. Then someone breaks into the pie shop and ransacks it. Soon after, someone catnaps Lardo. Clearly, a very unscrupulous person is trying to find Aunt Polly’s secret pie crust recipe, and they will stop at nothing.

Alice and her friend Charlie decide that they have to find out who is behind these strange occurrences, and when they finally find out the truth, they discover much more than they ever imagined they would.

This marvelous book not only tells a delightful story, but it also shows readers that the road to happiness is not paved with fame and fortune. Instead, the road paved with love and kindness, and you are blessed if you are able to spend your days doing something that you love.

This story is written with warmth, humor, and sensitivity, and the descriptions of Aunt Polly’s pies are almost more than a normal person can bear. Luckily, the author includes fourteen pie recipes that will surely delight readers who fancy tasting Aunt Polly’s creations for themselves.