How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A.
By Marjorie Priceman
Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16.99
40 pp.; ISBN-13: 978-0375812552
Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews
In this quirky guide to baking a pie, Marjorie Priceman reveals so much more than just a good recipe — she takes readers on an unforgettable trip across the country in which she introduces young readers to all that really goes into the items we use every day and our geography, natural resources, and selected historic landmarks.
Opening with a bucolic scene of a girl thinking of making a cherry pie (there’s even a recipe, so you really can make the cherry pie if you want to) Priceman’s take-charge narrative jumps right in, suggesting all the things she’ll need to make the cherry pie that she wants, like a bowl, pie plate, rolling pin, measuring cups, pastry slab, measuring spoons and potholders. What seems like a quick trip to the store for supplies becomes a whirlwind trip around the U.S.A. to gather the natural resources necessary to make all of these things, from scratch, because the store is closed, of course.
Priceman leads her character, and the reader, from New York down the Pennsylvania and Ohio line to get coal, then down a Mississippi riverboat to Louisiana for cotton and gumbo. West to New Mexico where the Four Corners (and clay for the mixing bowl) are the draw. Amidst the girl’s gathering wood in Washington for her rolling pin, we learn a bit about the state, and the first president, and then quick trips to Hawaii (sand for glass) and Alaska. The girl’s voyage continues on until she’s gathered all she needs, whereupon she returns home and in a really condensed version of events, makes all the items she needs to make a cherry pie and then the pie itself. A trip back out to the store for one more thing leads to a Fourth of July parade in which she really can celebrate the U.S.A.
The fun and energetic text is engaging and fast-moving, a quick bite here and there of geography, history, science, and more. The vibrant and colorful illustrations capture what’s unique about every place this plucky little girl visits, from rappelling down a New Hampshire mountain to flying over Mount Rushmore. Priceman cleverly makes every part of the book work toward the story, even the endpapers. The front endpapers are a map of the country with a pictures of one or two of the things the area is known for in every state, like a wheel of cheese in Wisconsin, an orange in Florida, and a dressmaker’s model in New York. The back endpaper is that same map overlaid with a dotted line that follows the path of the trip taken in the book. Priceman definitely encourages her readers to think and do, making How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. a great choice for young readers and their families.