Review: Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie

Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems

by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Michael Slack

Find it at: Your library | Amazon | Indiebound

Published: Harcourt Children’s Books (April 3, 2012)

Recommended reading age: 7 & up

In a nutshell: Today is Pi Day, which means it’s Pie Day in our neck of the woods! It’s also the perfect excuse to review Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems by Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis. Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie is a clever collection of fifteen poems inspired by classic poems, but with a twist of math added to the mix. Combining both verse and mathematics, together the poems are word puzzles asking for answers (provided in small print upside-down on the bottom of the page). What fun!

“Edgar Allan Poe’s Apple Pie”
(Inspired by “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe)
Once upon a midnight rotten,
Cold and rainy, I’d forgotten
All about the apple pie
Still Cooling from the hour before.
I ignored the frightful stranger
Knocking, knocking . . . I, sleepwalking,
Pitter-pattered toward the pantry,
Took a knife from the kitchen drawer,
And screamed aloud, “How many cuts
Give me ten pieces?” through the door,
The stranger bellowed, “Never four!”


The answer to the puzzle is “cut the apple pie across 5 times to make 10 equal slices”. Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and other various wordsmiths are represented providing the reader the opportunity to tap into poetry by the masters and tests their math skills to boot.

And check out these colorful and entertaining illustrations by Michael Slack…

When I was a kid I hated math. Let’s be real… I still don’t enjoy math. But I’ve always taken to poetry and a good brainteaser. Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie would have been the excellent remedy for my lack of interest in math as a child. It’s for math lovers, poetry lovers, and those hesitant in either category.

Don’t take my word for it: “…it’s sacrilege of the best kind. Kids will have fun reading and solving these. Hopefully some smart teachers will share the originals with kids and maybe even have them try some mathematical parodies of their own.” – review from The Miss Rumphius Effect

Extras: Visit these websites for more information on author J. Patrick Lewis and illustrator Michael Slack.

Source of book reviewed: My local library!


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