Tag Archives: PIE

Review: Honestly Elliott by Gillian McDunn

Honestly Elliot by Gillian McDunn

Honestly Elliott
Gillian McDunn
Bloomsbury Children’s USA
Published March 1, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Honestly Elliott

Elliott has been struggling since his closest friend moved away, and he’s not too sure where he fits into his own family, especially since his newly remarried dad and stepmom are expecting a baby. His grades aren’t too great, he’s always forgetting things, and he doesn’t really like sports. All together, the result is someone the complete opposite of his dad–a fact they’re both very aware of. Elliott’s only solace is cooking, where he can control the outcome, testing exciting recipes and watching his favorite cooking shows.

When he’s paired with the super smart and popular Maribel for a school-wide project, Elliott worries they won’t see eye to eye. But Maribel is also looking for a new way to show others her true self and this project could be the chance they’ve both been waiting for. Sometimes the least likely friends help you see a new side to things . . . and sometimes you have to make a few mistakes before you figure out what’s right.

My Review

I’ve been a huge fan of Gillian McDunn’s books right from the first page of her debut, CATERPILLAR SUMMER, and that hasn’t changed a bit with HONESTLY ELLIOTT.

This book is a little different than her others. It focuses a lot more on the family dynamics in Elliott’s life, specifically his navigating divorce and a blended family. I loved that the story explored some of Elliott’s feelings about having a new half-brother as an older kid. When my family went through that change, it was really hard for me to find resources out there that looked at both a blended family situation and becoming a sibling for the first time as an older child.

I felt like HONESTLY ELLIOTT delved into a lot of big topics, but in a gentle way. Elliott learns a lot about himself in his role as a friend and in his role in his family. I also thought the way his views about cooking versus baking get challenged and the way that his project for school helped him connect to his community and community history.

All in all, I’m so glad I read HONESTLY ELLIOT. It’s so important to have great books out there that center on complex issues of adjusting to sibling-hood and blended families, and I’m really excited to be able to recommend this one.

Content Notes for Honestly Elliott

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Elliott has ADHD. Maribel has celiac disease. Elliott’s best friend Malcolm has two moms.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content

Violent Content

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of HONESTLY ELLIOTT in exchange for my honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Want to Learn Things

Top Ten Tuesday is a Weekly Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is about books that inspire us to learn new things, or at least make us wish we could! Here are some of the books that made me want to take up new hobbies.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – parkour

Reading about Inej’s amazing spider-like abilities made me wish I was athletic and brave enough to learn some parkour. It looks like so much fun. Well, until you watch all those reels of fail videos. Ouch!

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley – glass blowing

Okay, this one is only slightly cheating because I’ve always wanted to learn glass-blowing anyway. Fun fact: a girl I grew up with actually has an arts degree in this. Anyway, reading about Lucy and how she feels about and connects with her art really made me wish we had local classes that I could take.

Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey/How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras – painting

Both the protagonists in these books are painters, and I loved the imagery and descriptions of how painting made them feel and how they expressed what they were feeling in the things they painted. I dabbled with painting while I was in school, and I’ve always wanted to continue with more classes. This made me really hungry for it.

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson – poetry

I love poetry. I love that a talented poet can use only a few words to paint an incredibly vivid picture and communicate powerful emotions to a reader. This book made me want to write poetry, even though my attempts are often cheesy and hopelessly abstract in a bad way.

PIE by Sarah Weeks – baking

(Honorable mention: Good Grief by Lolly Winston, which isn’t YA, but definitely made me wish I was a baker! I would love to have Sophie’s cheesecake recipes. Yum!)

I don’t know if anyone could read this book and NOT want a slice of pie. The best part about this? The author anticipated this and includes recipes in the back of the book! I love cooking, but I’m horrible at baking. This book made me want to give it another try. Like, now.

To Get to You by Joanne Bischof – skateboarding

Despite the fact that I took ballet lessons for years of my life, I’m not the most coordinated person. (I think the idea that dancers are graceful is a bad stereotype anyway. We spend most of our time in wide open spaces where there’s nothing to trip over/bash into, so put us in a room with breakables and floor height changes and see what happens.) I stood on a skateboard one time. I liked it. That’s about as far as that went. I would love to learn to actually do even some of the most basic skateboarding moves. While the skating isn’t a HUGE theme in the story, the ease with which Riley moves and how soothing it is to him definitely made me envious.

The Feuds by Avery Hastings – ballet dancing

I took ballet classes for lots of years, and even though it’s been a long time, I do still miss it. I loved reading about a dancer. It’s always fun for me to read books about ballerinas because I actually know what the names of the moves are and have done them. It’s like reading a book with some Spanish dialogue and being able to trot out your high school Spanish and follow along without needing the interpretation.

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos and I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert – music

Books about punk rock kids hold a special place in my heart because for the last let’s not talk about how many years, I’ve been writing about a trio of punk kids myself. Music is another hobby I’ve dabbled in– once upon a time someone handed me a guitar and a chord dictionary, and I went from there– but I’ve never really taken lessons or learned anything complex. Both these books made me want to take up music again.

What about you?

Have you read any books lately that tempted you to pursue new hobbies? If you’ve read any of the books on my list, did you like them?

Review: Pie by Sarah Weeks

Sarah Weeks
Published October 1, 2011

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Beloved Aunt Polly’s death leaves Alice miserable and the small town of Ipswitch floundering. Her world-famous restaurant serving free pies must close, but as the will is settled, everyone wonders who will get Polly’s award-winning pie crust recipe? No one is more surprised than Alice when Aunt Polly’s attorney presents her with Lardo, her aunt’s grumpy cat and sole inheritor of the coveted recipe. News ricochets through town. In its wake a mysterious villain vandalizes Polly’s shop and catnaps Lardo (in case the rumors that the recipe is tattooed on the feline’s enormous belly are true.)

Alice’s mother refuses to listen to Alice’s claims that the cat has been abducted and instead rages against her sister’s leaving her out of her will. It’s up to Alice and the local grocery delivery boy to solve the mystery and rescue Lardo amid the whole town’s frantic attempts to recreate Polly’s famous pies.

An unexpected guest reveals the final pieces of Aunt Polly’s will, leaving Alice and her mother dumbfounded. While Alice knows the knot of grief inside her will never fully disappear, she finds a way to cope with the loss and keep her aunt close in her memory and in her sweet baked treats.

Though it grapples with a young girl’s first experience with grief, PIE is an overwhelmingly sweet story, packed not only with tender moments and humor but over a dozen pie recipes, ranging from the all-American classic Apple Pie to the unexpected Green Tomato Pie. This is a great story to read aloud – with frequent breaks to do a little baking! What a great opportunity to bond with middle readers both in literature and in the kitchen.

Language Content
No profanity or crude language.

Sexual Content

Spiritual Content


Drug Content