Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai
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.
In her hilarious, moving middle-grade debut, Remy Lai delivers a scrumptious combination of vibrant graphic art and pitch-perfect writing that will appeal to fans of Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham's Real Friends, Kelly Yang's Front Desk, and Jerry Craft's New Kid.
This is a fantastic book. It tells the story of Jingwen and is brother Yanghao after their move to Australia. Jingwen struggles to understand English and finds school extremely difficult (which you would, if you couldn't understand what anyone was saying). He feels like an alien and is very conscious of his and his brother's 'otherness'.
This story is very funny and the illustrations add an extra dimension but it also painful in parts. I felt huge empathy for Jingwen's struggles having taught a number of children over the years who speak little or no English when they arrive at school. It must be extremely bewildering and confusing as well as frustrating and boring having no idea what is going on around you all of the time; it must also feel incredibly isolating. All of this comes through in Jingwen's story.
The relationship between the brothers is heartfelt and funny at times but is also probably familiar to anyone who has siblings as the two brothers often argue and annoy each other, whilst also clearly loving each other dearly. They bond over making cakes; cakes that their deceased father had dreamed of making in his cake shop 'Pie in the Sky,' the shop he planned to open when he moved to Australia. The portrayal of Jingwen's grief is subtle and masterfully done. It is really touching how the two brothers bond over making cakes and sharing memories of Papa.
This is simply a lovely story that would be great for anyone from 9+. It is another book that skilfully encourages empathy for others. It is heart-warming at times and very funny. It is also a very touching story as you see Jingwen come to terms with his grief for his father and gradually feel less alone and more at home in his new existence in Australia.
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I would recommend anyone who enjoys a good book to read this. I have put a couple of links below if anyone wants to buy it.