Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Review: Once I Ate a Pie

Image from
A Book Review of:

Once I Ate Pie, by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest
Illustrated by Katy Schneider

ALA's Notable Books for Children Award Winner
Beehive Children's Poetry Book Award
Virginia's Readers' Choice Award (WOOT!)
Young Hoosier Book Award


This book of poetry tells the story of 13 dogs from their own perspectives-- of their misbehavior, their loyalties, and what they really like to do all day. From the puppy on the first page who admits he's afraid of the big world for now, to Mr. Beefy, a giant pub who admits, "Once I ate a pie," and to the end, where the now grown up puppy (from the first poem), to Wupsi who loves how cute he is, to Abby, who chews everything in sight, and others in between, we finally end with Luke, who is actually the now-grown puppy from the first pages. This book of short poems is for dog lovers everywhere who can see a little bit of their pets in each of these lovable characters.
Machlachlan, P., & Charest, E.M. (2006). Once I ate a pie. New York, NY: Joanna Cotler Books.

This book is a hilarious way to get inside a dog's head. Using wonderful imagery and a great use of diction and word arrangement, MacLachlan and her daughter bring to life 13 dogs, some mischievous, some good. The words on the page, especially the shape and size of the words, reflect the words themselves. For example, for Pocket's poem (a small dog who thinks he's BIG), the word "tiny" is shown in small text, and the last line, "I am HUGE" is written in large font. Abby, a dog who runs off with things--slippers, socks, meat off a plate, and anything in a bowl, has words displayed all over, in arcs across the page, with big and small text intermixed. This gives you the feeling of the mess Abby makes in her house. Aside from the beautiful words, Katy Schneider's beautiful illustrations are funny, expressive, and capture the dogs perfectly. They are a perfect match to the text, and the combination of all of these things make this book a real treat.

Professional Reviews:

"An appealing cover image of a charming pug invites the reader into this ode to canine companions by the mother-and-daughter team. Fourteen short, non-rhyming poems introduce a variety of highly individualistic dogs, with the personality of each one captured in just a few revealing lines. The poems are written in first person with an innocent viewpoint appropriate to a dog's egocentric perspective on the world. Abby "borrows" bones, balls and slippers (and doesn't give them back); Mr. Beefy the pug steals butter (or even a cherry pie) from the table; and Lucy, adopted from a shelter, sleeps between her owners with her own pillow and teddy bear. Schneider's expressive paintings add to each dog's character, skillfully capturing distinctive breed characteristics, with expressive eyes and playful postures that indicate thorough knowledge of canine behavior. Thoughtful design elements include a trail of paw prints leading from the cover through the front matter into the text, varying type treatments and a mixture of illustration perspectives." 
[Review of the book Once I ate a pie, by P. MacLachlan & E.M. Charest]. (2006, May 1). Kirkus' Reviews. Retrieved from
"Free-verse poems about 14 individual dogs sprawl across oversize spreads accompanied by large oil illustrations. The poems and paintings together delightfully capture each distinct personality in few words and with broad strokes of the brush. The fonts change often and reflect the poet's words-rising and falling, sometimes in bold type, growing larger and smaller and dancing over the pages. The format allows for plenty of white space, emphasizing the postures and personalities of the pups and helping the playful fonts to stand out. The overall result is an entertaining visit with some very appealing canines, and a book that perhaps could serve as an inspiration in the classroom for young poets trying to describe their own pets. One wishes that the breeds were listed somewhere, but all in all, this title is still a real treat."
Constantinides, J. (2006, May 1).  [Review of the book Once I ate a pie, by P. MacLachlan & E.M. Charest]. School Library Journal. Retrieved from

Other Uses:

National Poetry Month is in April -- celebrate by creating a display featuring poetry in all sections of the library. For the children's section, use this book. Have a poetry contest for all ages where kids and teens can each compete with their peers to submit poetry to be judged by a panel of librarian judges. If they don't want to compete, have a public posting board in the teen and kids' section where they can display their poetry, either with their names or anonymously. At our library, our librarians create a "Poet Tree" where poems from our patrons are displayed.

This book could spawn a whole group of poems specifically from the point of view of our pets!

No comments:

Post a Comment