Pie in the Sky

Remy Lai

Book - 2019

Knowing very little English, eleven-year-old Jingwen feels like an alien when his family immigrates to Australia, but copes with loneliness and the loss of his father by baking elaborate cakes.

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Children's Room jFICTION/Lai, Remy Due Sep 23, 2022
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Subjects
Genres
Humorous fiction
Novels
Published
New York : Henry Holt and Company 2019.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
380 pages : color illustrations ; 20 cm
ISBN
9781250314093
1250314097
9781250314109
1250314100
Main Author
Remy Lai (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

A boy struggles to come to terms with his father's death and his new life after immigrating to Australia in this character-driven novel. Back home, Jingwen's family ran a cake shop. In Australia, Jingwen struggles to understand his classmates and teachers. Worse, his annoying little brother, Yanghao, seems to be learning English and making friends with no trouble at all. Jingwen's refuge becomes secretly baking, with help from Yanghao, all the cakes his father planned to sell in his new bakery. Jingwen thinks if he can bake all of them, maybe he will be forgiven for not always appreciating his father. Maybe everything will be OK again. Jingwen's slow journey through grief and displacement is heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful. Lai's cartoon illustrations depict Jingwen's sense of alienation (at times, Jingwen is drawn as an alien, a ghost, and a robot) with care and sensitivity. Comics interludes, complete with speech balloons, enliven the story. Even though Jingwen deals with heavy burdens, his story also contains plenty of humor. An emotional tale about loss and letting go, pleasantly buoyed by comedy and cake baking. Grades 3-6. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Lai centers her incisive illustrated novel debut on Jingwen, who moves from his unspecified home country to Australia with his mother and younger brother Yanghao after his father's death. The boy mourns the loss of his father and feels like an alien among his fifth-grade classmates as he struggles to learn English, which sounds like "Martian words" (blue-tinged illustrations show others, then the boys, as space aliens in their daily life). Summoning memories of baking with Papa, Jingwen imagines the cakes they'd anticipated selling at Pie in the Sky, the bakery they planned to open upon moving. Jingwen vows to make the 12 cakes, believing this will preserve his memories of Papa—and that "cakes make everything better." But his baking obsession leads to the betrayal of his hardworking mother's trust, landing him and Yanghao in hot water. Though repetition of facts and dialogue (including the brothers' penchant for calling each another "Booger") at times thwarts the narrative flow, its pace accelerates in the final chapters as Lai adds a few surprise ingredients to concoct a deeply satisfying ending for this heartwarming immigrant story about sibling bonds, honesty, and surmounting obstacles. Ages 8–12. (May) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 3–6–Having recently immigrated to Australia, 11-year-old Jingwen feels like he's been dropped onto a strange planet full of gibberish-spouting aliens. He knows life would be easier if he learned more English like his annoyingly chipper, too-loud, too-energetic little brother Yanghao. But guilt over his father's accidental death festers. Worried that assimilating into Australian culture means he's forsaking his father's memory, Jingwen latches on to the idea that if he can make all the cakes his father planned to feature on the menu of his dream bakery, Pie in the Sky, then everything will be okay. Even if that means disobeying his mother's rules while she's working the night shift at a local bakery. Written from Jingwen's perspective, the text is augmented with humorous, often exaggerated black and blue spot and sequential paneled illustrations that offer a visual window into Jingwen's experiences and emotions. Frequent flashbacks to Jingwen's younger years in his (unnamed) country of origin contribute to strong character and relationship development and to the satisfying conclusion. Whether Jingwen and Yanghao are teasing, supporting, or bickering with each other, their relationship rings true. The humor, akin to that of Jeff Kinney's popular "Wimpy Kid" series, occasionally veers into the delightfully gross, such as when Yanghao barfs from one too many slices of cake. VERDICT A first purchase for all libraries, this #OwnVoices hybrid chapter book/graphic novel is the perfect mixture of funny and emotionally resonant.—Amy Seto Forrester, Denver Public Library Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Feeling as out of place as if he landed on Mars when his family moves to an English-speaking country, 11-year-old Jingwen dreams about the cakes he would have baked with his late father, a hope that is challenged by his mother's strict kitchen safety rules. Simultaneous and eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A poignant, laugh-out-loud illustrated middle-grade novel about an eleven-year-old boy's immigration experience, his annoying little brother, and their cake-baking hijinks! Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang!A Parents Magazine Best Kids Book of the Year!A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year!An NPR Best Book of the Year!A Horn Book Best Book of the Year! A Kirkus Best Book of the Year! Recipient of FIVE starred reviews! "Pie in the Sky is like enjoying a decadent cake . . . heartwarming and rib-tickling." —Terri Libenson, bestselling author of Invisible Emmie When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he's often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao.To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she's at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they'll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama.In her hilarious, moving middle-grade debut, Remy Lai delivers a scrumptious combination of vibrant graphic art and pitch-perfect writing that will appeal to fans of Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham's Real Friends, Kelly Yang's Front Desk, and Jerry Craft's New Kid.A Junior Library Guild selection! "Seamlessly mixes together equal parts of humor, loss, identity, discovery, and love to create a delicious concoction of a story. . . illustrated beautifully with Lai's insightful drawings." —Veera Hiranandani, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Night Diary* "The humor [is] akin to that of Jeff Kinney’s popular “Wimpy Kid” series . . . the perfect mixture of funny and emotionally resonant." —School Library Journal, starred review * “Perfect for fans of Gene Luen Yang and Victoria Jamieson.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review This title has common core connections.