Themes: Grief, Immigration, Acceptance, Parents, Siblings, Friendship, Baking Cakes!
Suggested age: 8 – 10 year olds.
Published by Walker Books.
When you move to a new country and have to learn a new language, there’s only one way to explain how that feels – in her debut middle grade novel Pie in the Sky Remy Lai describes it as if you’ve landed on Mars. Check out the Martians in this picture from the book:The book is presented in a hybrid form, combining normal prose and graphic novel-style illustrations interspersed throughout.The story follows Jingwen, his mother and adorably annoying little brother Yanghao as they move to Australia. I say adorably annoying because he is not my brother, if he was I would be addressing him as ‘booger‘ too as his big brother frequently does in the book. Yanghao is seriously funny but older brother Jingwen is annoyed, not only by his younger brother’s antics but also because Yanghao seems to be learning English and making friends better than he is and that doesn’t seem fair.
Jingwen’s father has recently passed away. Jingwen struggles with the challenges of assimilation into a new country while coming to terms with the grief of his father’s loss. It is a heavy subject, but Lai pulls off the narrative with a light n airy feel of a well-mixed cake batter! After all, it is a story about cake baking too. A word of warning: when you finish reading this novel, you’ll have a serious craving to eat cake, with icing! The illustrations are also by Remy Lai. The blue colour of the cartoons are perfect and I loved the clear font on the bright white paper used in the book.