IT’S ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!
Moving is never easy, but moving to a different country where you don’t understand the language is doubly difficult. Jingwen, his younger brother, and Mom have made the move to Australia. The one person who had planned to be with them is the boys’ dad, who tragically died in a car accident. His dream was to open a bakery called Pie in the Sky.
Jingwen hates his new school and country. He knows little English and thinks of his new environment as another planet. He doesn’t enjoy learning English even though his mom and brother are way ahead of him in understanding and speaking this new language. Instead, Jingwen thinks everything will be better if he can bake the same cakes his father intended to make for the new business.
Correctly pegged as illustrated Middle Grade Fiction as opposed to a graphic novel, the rather hefty volume shouldn’t scare away readers. The text and illustrations are nicely balanced with pages that are strictly text, others full of captioned pictures, and many more a combination of the two.
The story is what will win readers over. The pain Jingwen goes through in not understanding homework or other students is real and he hates being called s l o w. His misunderstanding of English leads to hardship for himself and those around him. A sometimes sad but also uplifting tale of how language can be a barrier to belonging.
PUBLISHED: 2019 PAGE COUNT: 384
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT—
- The cakes will have you wanting to make your own. Thankfully, there is a recipe for one of the best—A Rainbow Cake.
- Yanghao will remind you of many irritating younger siblings. They’re the ones you can’t stand one day and love the next.
- Jingwen is a great character. He has a lot on his emotional plate and his character arc hits you with heartwarming realities.
- The comparison of being in an alien world was a perfect link to feeling what it’s like when you don’t understand words or conversations.
- The illustrations are well done and often humorous in their presentation.
THE OFFICIAL PLOT (From Amazon)
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Remy Lai studied fine arts, with a major in painting and drawing. She was born in Indonesia, grew up in Singapore, and currently lives in Brisbane, Australia, where she writes and draws stories for kids with her two dogs by her side. Pie in the Sky is her debut middle-grade novel. Follow Remy on Twitter and/or sign up for Remy’s monthly newsletter on her author website.
I received a copy of this book from Macmillan Children’s Publishing.
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