cover image Ugly Pie

Ugly Pie

Lisa Wheeler, illus. by Heather Solomon, Harcourt, $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-216754-7

Ol' Bear has a "hankerin'," and only one thing will satiate it: Ugly Pie. By following him on a quest through the forest, with stops at the homes of friendly neighbors who offer up their own traditional pies (no pie-filching Yogi Bear is he), readers will eventually learn that Ugly Pie is defined by the unaesthetic quality of its ingredients: wrinkled raisins, sour green apples, bumpy brown walnuts, and molasses. The conceit isn't all that successful—the pie may look ugly, but it sounds pretty good—especially in an age where gross is the new gorgeous. Still, Wheeler's (Boogie Knights) rural dialect text, replete with dropped gs ("Then Ol' Bear commenced to a-choppin' and a-mixin' and a-stirrin' and a-fixin' "), is fun to read—grownups should try channeling Baloo from The Jungle Book. Even better are Solomon's predominantly watercolor illustrations, which often employ a funny, multiexposure effect to convey Ol' Bear's relentlessness as he traverses the countryside, and exude a honeyed sense of color, place, and character. A recipe for the pie appears on the final pages. Ages 3–7. (July)