This last week our school was fortunate to host children’s author Derek Munson, who presented his book Enemy Pie to our kindergarten, first, and second graders, and gave some valuable writing tips to our third, fourth, and fifth graders.
The story itself strikes at the heart of how we would like kids to deal with relational adversity (warning: plot spoilers ahead). Our hero (whose name is not given) is a boy who is having a great summer, until Jeremy Ross moves in to the neighborhood and makes his life difficult. Jeremy laughs when he strikes the boy out, and doesn’t invite him to jump on his trampoline, even though he lets other neighborhood kids do so. The boy talks with his dad about his problem, who tells them he knows a great way to get rid of an enemy, and that is by making Enemy Pie. The catch is that you have to spend the day with your enemy, and then serve him a slice of that pie at the end of the day. Your enemy will disappear after that.
Jeremy and the boy spend the day together, and end up eating lunch, throwing a boomerang, and even climbing up into the boy’s treehouse, which had been previously off limits to Jeremy. The boy is almost having fun with his enemy. After dinner later that night, it’s time to serve Jeremy Ross his slice of Enemy Pie, and suddenly the boy doesn’t want to get rid of his enemy. Of course, by this time, he HAS gotten rid of his enemy, as the two are now friends.
Derek’s presentation to our younger kids was especially well received. He had them make two pies: One with good stuff (marshmallows, whip cream, gummies, etc…) and one with bad stuff (shaving cream, spiders from outer space, etc…). Which one is going to get rid of your enemy? Serving them the bad one will just make them want to turn around and do more bad things to you. But serving them the first one, with the good stuff inside, will just maybe cause them to turn around and treat you better. That’s how you can get rid of your enemy. This would make a great activity for a friendship skills group, and is even presented as such on their website.
Hanging out with Derek was just as much of a treat as watching him in action. I couldn’t help but smile as he relayed a personal story from their family that he says is the inspiration for an upcoming book. The bravery that takes place in Enemy Pie is in keeping with his adventuresome but well-grounded free spirit. I also appreciated his interactions at the book signing for our kids who purchased it that day.
You can view the book being read at Storylineonline.net. Click on “All Stories,” and select “Enemy Pie” from there. Another intriguing project of his is called Alien All-Stars, which is a baseball league comprised of teams from throughout the galaxy. The great thing about being an Alien All-Star is that sometimes traits that might work against you on our planet (short, slow, etc…) are actually advantages on other planets.
I’m looking forward to keeping up with his future projects and hopefully having him back in our school some day.
Image © Rick Scheibner, all rights reserved.