Humble Pie

( 2 )


Only Theo's grandmother sees the truth about the boy: He's as spoiled as a rotten old apple!

That is why, on one of Theo's naughtiest, grabbiest, mouthiest days, Grandmother decides to bake him a pie.

Young Theo has never seen the like. Its crust is as big as a bedsheet; its filling of plums, cherries, peaches, pears, apples, and quince is as tempting as any sweet feast ever set before a boy. But when he ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (12) from $7.17   
  • New (8) from $7.17   
  • Used (4) from $8.60   
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.
Sending request ...


Only Theo's grandmother sees the truth about the boy: He's as spoiled as a rotten old apple!

That is why, on one of Theo's naughtiest, grabbiest, mouthiest days, Grandmother decides to bake him a pie.

Young Theo has never seen the like. Its crust is as big as a bedsheet; its filling of plums, cherries, peaches, pears, apples, and quince is as tempting as any sweet feast ever set before a boy. But when he greedily reaches out for a taste, little Theo bites off a lot more than he can chew!

Jennifer Donnelly's wise and funny tale has inspired pictures of modern-day wit and medieval charm from a master of artistic antics, Stephen Gammell.

A naughty boy gets his just "desserts."

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Theo never thought about anyone but himself. He never took turns or shared with his friends. Theo never gave to beggars or helped his father with the chores. People did not know why the boy was so horrid, but his grandmother knew that Theo was just spoiled rotten! She decided to give Theo his "just desserts," and set out to make a huge humble pie with a crust "bigger than a bedsheet." Greedy Theo fell into the pie and quick as a wink, grandmother sealed him inside. Theo threw a temper tantrum and the pie began to roll. He passed his home and no one seemed to be missing him. He passed schoolmates and the family pets. All were unwilling to help such a nasty fellow. "Theo howled and yowled and thumped and bumped over rocks and ruts and branches." After many bumps and bruises, a contrite Theo and the pie finally stopped in a village of starving people. They were thrilled to see the treat. With humor and wit comes a delightfully tasty story, set to whimsical medieval illustrations. Loose lines and splashes of color add to the merriment. Theo learned much through his journey, making the book a wonderful teaching tool. 2002, Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster,
— Laura Hummel
School Library Journal
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 Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A dynamite union of a debut author with a veteran illustrator teaches a wry lesson with a unique scheme. Theo was not a good boy. Although his parents spoiled him rotten, he didn’t appreciate anything. He never did chores or gave the dog a bite of food. And he ruined the strawberries for Baby Tom’s birthday cake by splattering them all over. One day, right after the berry incident, he finds his grandmother rolling out a pie crust bigger than a bedsheet and wonders what it is for. His grandmother says a little rhyme, "Flour, butter, salt say I, / Berries, cherries, pile them high, / Hush now, mother, don’t you sigh / Let the boy eat Humble Pie." Just as Theo reaches in to pull out a plum, his grandmother deftly crimps the edges and seals him in the pie. He rolls away, and passes some schoolmates, who remember his meanness and won’t get him out. He rolls home, but everyone is celebrating Baby Tom’s birthday and the dog and cat roll him down a hill. He lands in a poor starving village, and they decide to bake the pie. Theo is truly terrified, but the baker stumbles while putting the pie in a huge oven, and Theo pops out. He races home, does the chores, pets the dog and cat, and chops the wood. "Looks to me like the boy got his just desserts," says his grandmother. And the pie lasts the poor village for a year. Gammell’s (The Burger and the Hot Dog, 2001, etc.) unmistakable illustrations, full of mischief and all of his splattery details, hold just the right amount of waggish exaggeration and expression, and suit the antic wit of the telling perfectly. Yum. (Picture book. 5-9)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416967514
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 10/29/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,026,953
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Donnelly

Stephen Gammell is the beloved illustrator of more than fifty books for children, including Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman, which received the Caldecott Medal, and two Caldecott Honor Books: The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, Where the Buffaloes Begin by Olaf Baker, and The Secret Science Project That Almost Ate Our School by Judy Sierra. Mr. Gammell lives with his wife, Linda, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2002

    Great news!!!! Fairly tales are back!!!!

    Having you ever been bored reading the same "pablum" books to your children night after night!!! Well, here is something exciting to read and see!!! Great story, great illustrations!!! No need to fall asleep reading this one!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2002

    A classic!

    What a great book! Donnelly is a gifted storyteller with a flair for melodic rhymes and delightful, leap-off-the-page characters. Her beautiful prose and Gammell's sumptuous illustrations make every page a masterpiece. This lovely fairy tale of naughty boys and wise grandmothers and lessons learned in the blink of a pie crust is essential reading for children of all ages.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)