Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sweet Dream Pie

Remember the days before the republication of The Principles of Knitting, when  it could cost $200 or more to get a copy of the out-of-print edition?  I was thrilled to track down a copy for $85, and in amazing shape too.

Well, hello, Sweet Dream Pie, by Audrey Wood (illustrations by Mark Teague).

I didn't pay $85 for this well-loved former library book, but I've been hunting this title for about a year and have regularly seen copies going for $120 or more.  And this for a book with no tips about the best way to increase a stitch in your knitting!

There is just something about this collaboration that can't help but capture you - or me, at any rate.  I first spotted it a few years ago at the library when the cover drew me in.

Here is one of my favourite pages near the front of the book, when Pa convinces Ma that it's time to bake another edition of her Sweet Dream Pie.

You may not be able to tell at this resolution but the pie pan itself is so magical, every sleeping cat on the street outside opens one eye the moment the lid of its storage trunk is open.

And here are Ma and Pa prepping the pie for baking:

The filling is basically every sweet candy imaginable.  I'm a good 35 years from my rabid candy-eating days and I still want to hang out at their house if that's what they store in the kitchen cupboards.

When the pan goes into the oven (at the oven's special Pie setting) the heat from the baking unfolds into the street and blankets every other resident in a heat so intense they have to resort to extreme measures to battle it.  For several pages, people are melted onto pavement or flattened onto deck chairs in the shade hoping for a little breeze.

And that's where I got caught.  The pictures are so evocative! and it's exactly how you feel on every hot day you've ever lived through, with the added bonus of the magical anticipation you'd like to have felt.  The air is buzzing with the something exciting that is about to happen, and you can't wait to see what... except the picture you're looking at, and the next one too, have so many little side jokes in them you just can't turn the pages as fast as you might like.

It was a hot summer day when I first read the book, and on a cold grey day in the fall I remembered that heat and sat down with the book again.  In the winter, the book made me feel warm, and in the summer, it made being hot bearable.  I lost count of how many times I went back to the library for some Sweet Dream Pie until


no book.

No book next time either, or the time after that.  Finally it dawned on me: it was no longer in circulation, and if I ever wanted another slice I was going to have to hunt down a copy of my own.  So what you're looking at is my reward for getting through the first part of my course, which I guess says something about my maturity... or maybe, my priorities?

All I can tell you is that I am very very happy to have this book back in my hands, and in the hottest imaginable week, too. 

But I do wonder why this book hasn't been re-released.  Aren't the kids who were reading it when it came out 20 or so years ago as noisy as knitters were about Principles?  They've got to be close to having babies now themselves, to whom they will want to read their favourite childhood books... so, maybe its time is coming.  And if it does, I would definitely buy a backup copy.

Meanwhile: you can read about how the book was illustrated here, and find more of Audrey Wood's books here, and more of Mark Teague's books hereSuch talented people!


Julie said...

Sad to say, that is the way of children's books. They don't stay in print nearly as long as adult books do. I'm still looking for a particular edition of the Princess and the Goblin by George McDonald. I actually own a copy of the book with better illustrations, but the one I'm looking for is just so nostalgic for me that it will be my eternal quest. I try to explain to parents that if there is a beloved children's book, they need to buy a copy while they still can.If publishing ever went completely to print on demand, we wouldn't have to worry about it. I think publishing may be heading in that direction, but it's not there yet.

Mary Keenan said...

Omigosh Julie, I did my undergraduate thesis on George McDonald and that book in particular! I'm with you, sometimes it has to be a particular edition. I went years before finding a copy of Pookie (about a rabbit with wings) to replace the one I'd grown up with - ended up getting it online from a shop in Australia!