by Derek Munson
Acceptance, Choices, Friendship, Conflict Resolution, Differences, Perspectives, Relationships
Before Reading Questions
- Who here has a best friend? What special qualities make this person a friend?
- What is the opposite of a friend? Is it a stranger, is it an enemy, or is it something else?
- Today's book is Enemy Pie. Before I show you the front cover, I'll tell you what appears there: a large pie with a note that reads, "For My Best Enemy." We talked about a best friend; is there such a thing as a "best enemy?" And why would you want to give something as delicious as a pie to your enemy?
- Let's look at the front cover. Do you think you'd enjoy enemy pie? What might be this character's intentions with this pie?
One boy's perfect summer seems to be ruined when his worst enemy, Jeremy Ross, moves in down the block. Fortunately, though, Dad has a recipe for enemy pie. But it seems that the pie will only be effective if the recipient is treated kindly before eating it. Reluctantly, the boy agrees to spend time with Jeremy.
As the boys spend the day shooting hoops, jumping on the trampoline, and throwing water balloons at the girls, our protagonist begins to realize that Jeremy isn't a bad kid at all; in fact, he and Jeremy share many traits and interests. So imagine his confusion and consternation when the pie is finally served. He desperately wants to tell Jeremy, "Don't eat it! It's poison!" But then he realizes that Dad, wise old Dad, is eating the pie as well, and enjoying himself immensely. The lesson here is pretty clear, and well delivered.
After Reading Questions
- Why didn't the main character like Jeremy Ross?
- Why did his father suggest enemy pie?
- So, did the pie work?
- What else might his Dad have suggested? Why was the pie a clever idea?
- At what point did we, the readers, realize what was happening? (You may also wish to tell students that when the reader knows something that a character does not, it is called dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is a terrific way of building suspense in a story. Remember when we heard that music in Jaws? Dramatic irony!).
- Before reading Enemy Pie, have students create lists about friends, while practicing parts of speech. For example, the first prompt might be, "Another name for friend is ____" (these would be nouns). Another prompt might be, "Friends are always ____" (adjectives). Then, "Friends always _____ (verbs, along with some other words if needed). And possibly, "Friend never ______" (again, verbs). Later, adverbs can be added to the verb phrases to complete them. Again, I would do this brainstorming before reading the book, and then again after.
- Using the lists from above, have students create a "Friend Poem." Boys, it seems, are especially reluctant to writing poetry, but I've found that they will do so, and with great success, if I 1) ask them to write bulleted lists from their prior experience (and thus tap into their schema), and 2) create a template for the poem, which provides a structure for their thoughts. So the template for a Friend Poem might simply be, "A friend is someone who..." and the lines that follow can be rhyming couplets, or simply verse.
- Taken one step further, the ideas from the first bullet can be used to create a Word Cloud, which is a cool, free form poem. Wordle.net allows you to enter words and phrases, and then transforms them into a variety of configurations which you can later change.
- The subject of pie is a perfect introduction to fractions. Students can solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions, as well as equivalent fractions, using visuals as a concrete reference. Suppose, for example, Dad bakes three pies for when the boys invite the girls over. Each pie is sliced into eight slices, and two slices are eaten from each pie. If the remaining slices are placed together into pie plates, how many total pies are there? Do any separate pieces remain? And so on.
- For the older set, how about a lesson on pi? Apart from the pun, pies lend themselves nicely to the study of terms such as radius, diameter, circumference, area, and, of course, pi.
- Very simple and quick pudding (creme) pies can be made in class using instant pudding. Many stores sell small graham cracker tart shells which can be used rather than large pie crusts; this allows each student to create their own pie, which can be topped as they like (with sprinkles, whipped cream, mini-marshmallows, etc.).
- Do you have another Science idea for here? I'd love to hear it and will gladly post it!
- If your class is presently studying history, what evidence is there of conflict between two groups of people? (European settlers vs. the Native Americans, Colonists vs. the British, North vs. the South, etc.) Do these conflicts originate from a failure to know and understand the perspectives of the opposing side? Are the differences between the two conflicting groups truly irreconcilable, or are the two groups simply refusing to compromise? Students can be asked to write a bulleted list summarizing the view points of both sides, with the intention of arguing one side or the other. The challenge is, they will not know which side they are arguing until seconds before their turn. The "argument" portion can be either a full-class debate or a one-on-one confrontation, where students are paired and must carry on a dialogue in front of their peers. Several peers may be chosen to act strictly as a jury or panel of judges rather than debate.