Thursday, December 18, 2008

How to Make a Cherry Pie and see the U.S.A. by Marjorie Priceman

How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A by Marjorie Priceman

Review by Mary Rowe (Library Queen's Weblog)

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she bake a cherry pie, Charming Billy?
She can bake a cherry pie
Quick as the cat can wink its eye.
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

Billy Boy’s future wife may have learned to bake a cherry pie from this book, How to Make a Cherry Pie and see the USA by Marjorie Priceman. .

How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the USA is a book with lessons you would wounldn’t imagine from just reading the title. The reader gets a tour of the United States and some basic concepts about the raw materials needed for many common products, and of course, a recipe for cherry pie. Everything needed to make this cherry pie must be gathered because the cook shop is closed. You will need to get everything necessary to make what you need to bake the cherry pie. You will need a pie pan so you will need steel to make the pie pan. To make the steel you will need coal. To get the coal you will need to go to the closest coal mine. Each element of the pie making process takes you to another state to get the raw materials for a tool or an ingredient.

The book reads almost like the If You Give a …books by Laura Joffe Numeroff. With the use of the word “you” as the main character the reader becomes part of the story.

“In the mood for a cherry pie? Let’s get started. First, mix flour and salt in a bowl. What, no bowl?

You will definitely need a bowl. Also, a pie pan, a rolling pin, a measuring cup, a pastry slab, a set of spoons, and some pot holders- which you can get at the Cook Shop.

But if the Cook Shop happens to be closed…

Go to New York and hail a taxi. Ask the driver to drop you off at the corner of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

There find the closest coal mine. Coal is used for making steel, and you need steel to make your pie pan. Take the trolley deep underground and fill a bucket to the brim. Don’t forget your hard hat and flashlight!”

That is the beginning of your whirlwind adventure to gather all the necessary tools and ingredients to make a cherry pie.

The author takes the reader to many states and gives a small aspect of the states culture, industry, or geography. One state the author has you visit is Alaska. There is nothing to get from Alaska. You just go because its there. I thought this was a “stretch” but a fun jaunt. Overall the visits to the states follow a logical course for the goal of making a cherry pie.

The illustrations are playful and full of detail. They add to the story by depicting some of the concepts that might not be farmiliar to the children. The illustrations also depict the rich cultural diversity of our country.

I would recommend this book for grades 1-3, but I plan to use it with my fourth graders who are studying the United States also. I plan to send them on a search for all the raw ingredients needed to make the cherry pie. It will be an internet scavenger hunt where they are given the object and have to find the raw materials. We will read the book as a culminating activity.

Marjorie Priceman is also the author of How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.

What Other Bloggers Are Saying:

Jen Robinson's Book Page: "The text is entertaining and filled with interesting facts. Priceman's gouache on hot-pressed watercolor paper illustrations add tons of other tidbits. " (read more...)

The Bookworm's Booklist: "Includes a brightly painted end paper map of the U.S.A.—and a recipe for cherry pie, of course! " (read more...)

InfoDad: "The book is fun to read, fun to look at and fun to learn from – and families can try the pie recipe together. " (read more...)

More info:
  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375812555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375812552
  • Source: Review Copy from Publisher


  1. Awesome!! I had no idea there was another book out. My children love the Apple Pie book. My 6yo son is jumping up & down with excitement about another one. Gonna have to find it quickly (wink).

    We've learned the vast majority of our geography through great books like these and a simple wall map.

  2. I hope you find it for your son soon, Daisy! I haven't seen the Apple Pie book but love the Cherry Pie book.

    If you like books about geography, have you seen the two Scrambled States of America books? They're pretty funny.

  3. I just ordered this from the library... can't wait for it to arrive. I also ordered How to Make and Apple Pie and See the World! Check my blog in about a week for a review on that one!

  4. Hi Katie. I hope you enjoy Cherry Pie when you get it. I'm looking forward to seeing your review!

  5. Billy Boy's future wife? Be sure to emphasize he could (and should) also make the pie himself.