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A poignant, laugh-out-loud, illustrated middle-grade novel about an eleven-year-old boy's immigration experience, his annoying little brother, and their cake-baking hijinks!
Sometimes life isn't a piece of cake . . . 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.
“Remy Lai seamlessly mixes together equal parts of humor, loss, identity, discovery, and love to create a delicious concoction of a story.” —Veera Hiranandani, Newbery Honor–winning author of The Night Diary
1. When the book begins, Jingwen, Yanghao, and their mother are in the process of moving to Australia. Have you and your family ever moved or visited a different country? If so, how was your experience?
2. To distract himself from the loneliness he feels, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky. Why is it so important that he bake every single one? Why does baking help make Jingwen feel better?
3. Why do you think that Yanghao adapts more quickly to his new surroundings than Jingwen does? Discuss some of the challenges that Jingwen faces in school.
4. At one point in the story, Jingwen believes that Ben made fun of him because Jingwen doesn't speak English well. But it turns out Jingwen was mistaken. Have you ever made an assumption about someone or something that proved to be false? How did you realize your error? Did you grow from the experience?
5. Jingwen struggles with the loss of his father for most of the book. How does he finally come to terms with it?
6. Have you ever been the “new kid” in school? If so, what are the similarities or differences between your experience and Jingwen’s?
7. Name some of the most significant challenges that Jingwen and Yanghao face as they try to fit in at their new English school. Do you think they handle these obstacles in the best way?
8. How would you describe Jingwen and Yanghao’s relationship? What do you think they learn about themselves and each other by the end of the book?
9. Why do Jingwen and Yanghao keep their baking a secret from Mama? Do you think they made the right decision? How might they have handled the situation differently?
10. In your own words, how would you summarize Pie in the Sky? What did you enjoy most or least from reading the book?
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 at @Remy_La