Not surprisingly, it’s about pie. And a cat named Lardo. And a young girl named Alice. And Alice’s beloved Aunt Polly (famous for her pies and her selfless gifts) who passes away leaving her prized secret recipe for pie crust to Lardo, the cat. And Lardo is left to the care of Alice. Many questions arise. Where is the secret recipe? How is Lardo in charge of this recipe? And what is Alice to do with Lardo, the cranky cat who really doesn’t like anyone? Alice needs help to find these answers…and solve the mystery of the green Chevrolet and the mysterious people who show up in town…also on the hunt for the secret pie recipe….
This book will give readers the opportunity to discuss friendship and family, while reading about Alice, Aunt Polly and Lardo. Yet the book is also a mystery – a classic “whodunit” mystery – and readers will enjoy looking for clues while they make their own guesses about the green Chevrolet and the identity of the cat-napper. (Yes, this book includes a mysterious cat-napping incident!)
Questions to Ponder:
Why does Aunt Polly bake pies? Does she ever try to win a Blueberry Award? What does this tell the reader about Aunt Polly’s character?
What kind of friend is Alice? How does she treat other people? What kind of friend is Charlie?
Describe Ruth, Alice’s mom. How does Alice see her mom? How do you see Alice’s mom?
Friendship & Family
Alice and Charlie become good friends, especially after the death of Aunt Polly. Why do you think they become friends? Why is this friendship important to both of them? How does their friendship change?
Why are Alice and Aunt Polly so close? What makes their friendship special? Why do you think it is more difficult for Alice and her mother to get along?
What do we learn about Ruth when she shows Alice the scrapbook? What do we learn about Ruth and Polly’s relationship? How does Alice’s relationship with her mother change during the novel?
What are some of the “clues” along the way as the mystery unfolds? Who are the main suspects in the cat-napping? After finishing the story, can you go back and find some of the clues that led the readers to the right person?
“Things do not change, we do.” ….”If you want things to be different, you have to start by changing yourself.” This conversation between Aunt Polly and Alice is found on page 122. Alice remembers this conversation, thinking about Charlie’s words “I’d rather be happpy.” Perfect opportunity for discussion (and readers can find about Henry David Thoreau).
“It’s important to be grateful for the gifts we have.” Polly tells Alice on their last evening together, after Alice tells her that she wishes she could sing better. “You are a wonderful songwriter. Don’t you ever forget that.” (page 21-22) This quote is excellent for revisiting after the end of the book. What do we know now in reading Aunt Polly’s words? What are the gifts of each character in the story? Aunt Polly? Alice? Ruth? Why are these gifts important?
“The most important ingredient in a pie is the love that goes into making it.” Aunt Polly told this “secret” to Alice (page 163). An excellent connection for discussing the reasons that Aunt Polly makes pies – and what doesn’t work about all of the people trying to make pies so that they can win the Blueberry Award.
- A cookbook project that includes not only recipes, but also words of wisdom and tidbits about each of the characters. Match the characters with the pies and include a reflection.
- Imagine that Aunt Polly won another Blueberry Award. Write Aunt Polly’s speech, and think about the wisdom she might want to share when she discusses her pies.
- After reading the Epilogue, think about what Alice’s Blueberry Award speech would be if she won the award forty years after her Aunt Polly. Think about what Alice has learned over the years, about herself, about Aunt Polly, and those she loves. What would she include in her speech? Write Alice’s speech – and include a favorite pie recipe!
Sarah Weeks Info & Reading
A note from Sarah Weeks on her website about why she did not include the recipe for Aunt Polly’s famous pie crust in the book….and a “Not So Secret Pie Crust Recipe” courtesy of Michele Stuart. And it DOES look like a good pie recipe if you are in the mood for baking!
Now for another question….what is YOUR favorite pie???