Cover image for Humble pie
Humble pie
Donnelly, Jennifer.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, [2002]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 32 cm
A naughty boy gets his just "desserts."
General Note:
"A Richard Jackson book."
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.4 0.5 64457.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Theo is as spoiled as a rotten old apple. His clever grandmother entices the boy with a pie she's baking, and before he knows it, Theo is a captive inside the pie. His outrage has him bouncing and jouncing in his pastry prison throughout the magical medieval countryside--and toward a waiting oven where a naughty young lad may get his just desserts. Full-color illustrations.

Author Notes

Jennifer Donnelly was born in Port Chester, New York in 1963. She majored in English literature and European history at the University of Rochester. Her books for adults include The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose. She is also the author of a picture book for children entitled Humble Pie and several young adult novels including Revolution and These Shallow Graves. A Northern Light was awarded Britain's Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction, and a Michael L. Printz Honor.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS^-Gr. 2. Set in a medieval land, this picture book introduces Theo, a rotten kid, who is selfish, lazy, and indifferent to the suffering of others. On the day he eats Baby's birthday cake, his grandmother decides to do something about her spoiled grandson. She makes a gigantic humble pie, and with a magical rhyme, she pops Tom inside. A major tantrum isn't enough to free him, and his "friends" refuse to pull him out. His family doesn't even care that he's gone. When Theo rolls himself to the village, he notices, for the first time, the ravaged, hungry people and feels pity. All the villagers see, however, is the huge pie. In the nick of time, Theo extricates himself and rushes home, a better boy who, as his grandmother notes, "has gotten his just deserts." Using fairy tale conventions, Donnelly's debut is fresh and funny. The only unsatisfying note is the ending, when Theo's freedom comes accidentally rather than as a result of his change of heart. Gammell's art is known for its exuberance. Here, using pastels, watercolors, and colored pencils, he offers splatters and splats, messes and muddles, adding mirth to the story's worth. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Theo has earned a village-wide reputation for being greedy and grabby. While the locals all have theories about the root of the problem, Theo's grandmother knows the true cause: he is spoiled rotten. Grandmother also knows the only cure is a heaping helping of humble pie a gigantic concoction that she happens to be preparing. She mixes Theo in with the fruit filling and covers it with crust, and not even Theo's worst tantrums get him out. Finally, when he rolls still inside the pie into a nearby village of starving people, the boy gets a taste of what it means to be compassionate. Debut author Donnelly gamely offers rhythmic turns of phrase ("Theo howled and yowled and thumped and bumped over rocks and ruts and branches") but her shapely prose does not disguise the didactic flavor of an old-fashioned morality tale. In addition, her examples of what constitutes spoiling a plump featherbed, a soft tunic, a warm coverlet are a stretch. The illustrations, however, convey an impish sense of fun that will have young readers happily following along and cheering for Theo's comeuppance. In Gammell's (Song and Dance Man) signature style, wispy colored-pencil and watercolor compositions alternate between shadowy black-brown hues and a palette bursting with rainbow brightness. Anchored in Old World details, his interpretations add dramatic punch and leavening along with a healthy dash of humor. Ages 4-7. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Theo is spoiled, unruly, selfish, and arrogant, and his grandmother is intent on teaching him humility. Watching her make a huge pie, with each step he asks, "What kind of pie?" and she replies, "Humble pie, child." After each question, she responds, "Let the boy eat Humble Pie." After falling into the very large pastry, Theo needs help, but no such luck. No one wants to come to his rescue because he "boasts and brags and wants his way, he never takes turns and shares, and he tattles and tells and always makes trouble." Being baked in the oven and eaten seems all but inevitable. Amazingly, he does escape and hurries home, a reformed and grateful child, so much so that his grandmother observes, "-the boy got his just desserts." Gammell's pastel, watercolor, and colored-pencil illustrations provide a perfect formula for expanding the text. Each page exudes brilliant characterization and dynamic, expressive gestures. The rich vocabulary and descriptive language enhance the engaging plot. Children will undoubtedly follow Theo's problem and his reform with great interest. A likely response will be requests for repeated servings.-Marian Creamer, Children's Literature Alive, Portland, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.