a baker’s dozen of upper crust pie picture books

Today we’re dishing up some picture book pies just in case you’ve got any hungry ankle-biters or restless munchkins hanging around.

There’s certainly no shortage of lovingly baked pie books cooling on library shelves, and I sampled as many as I could. When it’s too hot to play outside, invite the little ones to stick their fingers into these cool offerings. They’ll be left pie-eyed with wonder.


1. The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson, pictures by Jonathan Bean (Simon & Schuster, 2007). A cumulative tale featuring a loving father and daughter, showing how the wonders of nature play a role in creating the end product. With three-color folk art illustrations remniscent of Wanda Gag and Lois Lenski. See these brilliant reviews by Fuse 8 and Jules of 7-Imp for more details.

2. The President and Mom’s Apple Pie by Michael Garland (Dutton, 2002). President William Howard Taft, a man of substantial girth, visits small town America in 1909. After stepping off the train, he smells something positively delicious in the air. His nose leads him to some mighty fine grub before discovering Mom’s culinary masterpiece cooling on the window sill. Exuberant illustrations carry the reader through the fun and excitement of the day.

3. Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong, pictures by Margaret Chodos-Irvine (Harcourt, 2002). A young Chinese girl whose parents own a neighborhood grocery store is disheartened, thinking no one eats Chinese food on the 4th of July. She hears the parade outside and longs to celebrate the American way, complete with apple pie, like the one she smells baking upstairs. Before the day ends, she discovers that Chinese food is American too.

4. How to Make An Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman (Knopf, 1994). A young girl embarks on a joyous shopping expedition via various whimsical means to gather the ingredients for an apple pie in this well-loved classic. The finished pie (recipe included) is ultimately shared with children from around the world. (Note: How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. is coming in October!)

5. A Apple Pie by Gennady Spirin (Philomel, 2005). The traditional 17th century English alphabet rhyme is brought to life in Spirin’s whimsical Victorian style watercolor paintings. Each letter takes center stage in scenes depicting the fate of the apple pie: “B Bit it,” “F Fought for it,” “S Sang for it,” etc. Luscious, grand and magical all at the same time. Love that giant pie!


1.How to Bake an American Pie by Karma Wilson, pictures by Raul Colon (Margaret McElderry Books, 2007). A recipe spells out “how to bake an American pie, first ever made on the fourth of July,” using all the ingredients which make up our country, spiced with “ideas seasoned with dreams and customs from faraway lands.” The cooking metaphor works to wondrous effect, and the ink and watercolor paintings are fanciful and evocative. Contains purple mountain majesties in floating teacups, a dog and cat chef, and a giant rolling pin smoothing out the fruited plains.

2. Rabbit Pie by Penny Ives (Viking, 2006). A very sweet bedtime book in recipe format featuring six cuddly rabbits and their patient, loving mother going through the rituals of bathing, changing, and tucking in for the night. The warm and cozy home is depicted in pastel watercolors. Yummy plates of carrots might prove too tempting for young readers possessing efficient teeth.

3. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, pictures by Tara Calahan King (Chronicle, 2000). It looks like a perfect summer for a little boy until Jeremy Ross moves in across the street. After Jeremy Ross becomes Enemy #1, the boy’s father makes an enemy pie — guaranteed to get rid of enemies. For the pie to work, the boy must spend an entire day with Jeremy Ross. A satisfying story showing how friends are made. A Reading Rainbow book.

4. Humble Pie by Jennifer Donnelly (who favors coconut cream pie), pictures by Stephen Gammell (Atheneum, 2002). A morality tale set in a Medieval village about nasty, greedy, mouthy, spoiled Theo, whose grandmother wraps him up inside a giant pie. As he rolls through the village, no one wants to help him. Does he escape the red hot oven or get his just desserts?

5. All for Pie, Pie for All by David Martin (who loves to bake apple, blueberry and peach pie), pictures by Valeri Gorbachev (Candlewick, 2006). A charming, simple tale told as a repetitive narrative about Grandma Cat baking a scrumptious apple pie for her family, which is ultimately shared by the mouse family and ant family. A reassuring story that could be used as a math lesson, with ink and watercolor paintings in warm, earthy tones.

6. Sweet Potato Pie by Kathleen D. Lindsey, pictures by Charlotte Riley-Webb (Lee & Low, 2003). One summer, a drought destroys all the crops save the sweet potatoes. Sadie’s family must work together baking lots of pies to sell at the Harvest Celebration in order to earn enough money to save their farm. Vibrant, energetic acrylic paintings perfectly complement the story. Recipe included. 

7. A Pie Went By by Carolyn Dunn (who doesn’t bake pies), pictures by Christopher Santoro (who is especially fond of cherry pies) (HarperCollins, 2000). A tongue-in-cheek cumulative tale about King Bing, who, balancing a pie on his head, is on his way to propose to Queen Bea. Various critters along the way try to trick him into dropping the pie to no avail, so they end up following him, repeating their humorous retorts. Recipe for cherry pie included, with cherry and eyeball endpapers.

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