just peachy: easy as pie by cari best and melissa sweet


Thought it might be nice to spread a little sunshine today. I know Spring has barely begun, but already I’m craving late summer peaches. There’s nothing like a just ripe peach — blushing and golden, sweet and juicy, a perfect orb bursting with the sunny goodness of lazy summer days.


Now, I truly love peach pie. I’d walk a mile for a piece of warm peach pie, double or lattice crust, flaky and buttery, all melty and velvety in my mouth. And, as some of you may know, I love Melissa Sweet’s art. She’s one of my top ten favorite children’s book illustrators of all time. What happens when you combine two things you love so much? Well, I can barely stand it — the joy, the swooning, the admiration, the dreamy reverie of it all, the sweet resonance of my senses fully sated.


In three words: EASY AS PIE, a.k.a., a picture book written by Cari Best and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, all about baking a peach pie.


I will try to contain my gushing long enough to tell you a little about it, but no guarantees. Like the profoundly perceptive, self-proclaimed picture book nerd Julie Danielson of 7-Imp, I am fond of utilizing superlatives when it comes to good stuff. There’s no sense in trying to be restrained or even reasonable when it comes to picture book love, because it’s a genre that by its very definition (if there ever was one) emotes emotes emotes all the wonder, fun, beauty, joy, surprise, fears, disappointments, curiosity, and all-knowingness of childhood.  

So, budding chef Jacob is making his very first pie after watching Chef Monty on his favorite TV show. Throughout the process, he’s mindful of Chef Monty’s Baking Rules, which include things like, "A happy baker bakes a happy pie," and "If something unexpected happens, fix it as best as you can." What I love is how palpable Jacob’s love of cooking is, and how single mindedly he presses on despite his sister distracting him and the family trying to rush him so they can go out to dinner.

(click to enlarge)

He makes a few mistakes along the way, as is expected, but manages to surprise his family with a totally delicious end product. Lots of verve in the language, I like that. Great story about problem solving with lessons applicable to everyday life, and Jacob’s own baking rules may be the best ones of all: "It’s no fun eating a fresh pie all by yourself," and "A happy pie eater makes a baker happy!"

Jacob, with his rosy cheeks, chef’s hat and baking shoes, is definitely my kind of baker. Melissa has filled her pencil, watercolor and collage illustrations with details that tickle me blue, red and green: Jacob’s adorable facial expressions (a little tongue sticking out for extra concentration), lotsa checks and plaids and a polka dot pillow!, fetching book titles (Muffin Mania, The ABC of Baking, C is for Crumble), and of course those dang expressive illustrated words taken from the text (poke! push! big! bigger! toot! toot!). There’s nothing that pleases me more than letters with personality. And I love the "P" on Jacob’s pie. "P is for Pie and P is for Peach, and, of course, P is for Parents!"

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Of course you will crave peach pie like the dickens after reading this. And yes, a recipe for Happy Peach Pie is included. Kids will clamor for some time in the kitchen, and will love most of all the idea of eating dessert before dinner. Yes, a very good thing indeed. ☺

I won’t torture you any further. Dig in:


by Cari Best
illustrated by Melissa Sweet
published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, March 2010
Full color Picture Book for ages 4-8, 40 pp.
nom nom nom nom nom and nom

♥ Hungry for a few more pie books? Click here.

*Spreads posted by permission. Text copyright © 2010 Cari Best, illustrations © 2010 Melissa Sweet, published by FSG. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

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