illustration of a boy holding a pie filled with dirt and worms
Art by Tara Calahan King

Enemy Pie

What can you do about a kid you don't like? Here's a tasty idea.

By Derek Munson
From the March/April Issue
Lexiles: 500L-600L
Guided Reading Level: M
DRA Level: 24
Think and Read: Making Inferences

In this story, the narrator learns something important about enemies and friends. See if you can infer—or figure out—what it is.

It should’ve been a perfect summer. My dad helped me build a tree house. My sister was at camp. And I was on the best baseball team in town. It should’ve been a perfect summer. But it wasn’t.

It was all good until Jeremy Ross moved into the neighborhood. I didn’t like Jeremy. He laughed when he struck me out. He had a party on his trampoline, and I wasn’t invited.

Jeremy Ross was the only person on my enemy list. I never even had an enemy list before. But he came along, and I needed one. I hung it up in my tree house, where Jeremy Ross was not allowed.

Dad understood stuff like enemies. He told me that when he was my age, he had enemies too. But he knew a way to get rid of them.

He pulled an old recipe book off the kitchen shelf. Inside was a scrap of paper with faded writing. Dad squinted at it.

“Enemy Pie,” he said, satisfied.

What’s in It?

You may be wondering what exactly is in Enemy Pie. I was too. But Dad said the recipe was so secret, he couldn’t tell me. I begged him to tell me something—anything.

“I will tell you this,” he said. “Enemy Pie is the fastest known way to get rid of enemies.”

This got my mind working. What kinds of things—disgusting things—would I put into a pie for an enemy? I brought Dad weeds, but he shook his head. I brought earthworms, but he didn’t need those. I gave him the gum I’d been chewing. He gave it right back.

I went out to play, alone. I listened to the sounds of my dad making Enemy Pie. I tried to imagine how horrible it must smell. Instead, I smelled something really, really good coming from our kitchen. I was confused.

I went in to ask what was wrong. Enemy Pie shouldn’t smell this good. But Dad was smart. “If Enemy Pie smelled bad, your enemy would never eat it,” he said. He pulled the pie out of the oven. It looked good enough to eat!

But still. I wasn’t sure how Enemy Pie worked. What exactly did it do to enemies? Maybe it made their hair fall out. I asked Dad, but he wouldn’t tell me.

While the pie cooled, he filled me in on my job. “There is one part of Enemy Pie that I can’t do. You need to spend a day with your enemy. Even worse, you have to be nice to him. That’s the only way Enemy Pie can work. Are you sure you want to go through with this?”

It sounded horrible. It was scary. But it was worth a try. I just had to spend one day with Jeremy Ross, then he’d be out of my hair for the rest of my life. I knocked on his door.

Art by Tara Calahan King

No Enemies Allowed!

When Jeremy opened the door, he seemed surprised.

I was nervous. “Can you play?” I asked.

He looked confused. “I’ll ask my mom,” he said. He came back holding his shoes.

We rode bikes and played on the trampoline. Jeremy’s mom made us lunch. After lunch, we went to my house.

It was strange. I was kind of having fun with my enemy. But I couldn’t tell Dad that, since he had worked so hard on the Enemy Pie.

Jeremy knew how to throw a boomerang. He threw it, and it came right back to him. I threw it, and it went into my backyard. When we climbed over the fence to find it, the first thing Jeremy noticed was my tree house.

“Can we go in it?” he asked.

I knew he was going to ask that! But he was the top person, the ONLY person, on my enemy list. And enemies aren’t allowed in my tree house.

But he did teach me to throw a boomerang. And he did let me play on his trampoline. He wasn’t being a very good enemy.

“Okay,” I said, “but hold on.”

I climbed up first and tore the enemy list off the wall.

We played games until my dad called us down for dinner.

Dad made macaroni and cheese—my favorite. Jeremy’s too! Maybe Jeremy Ross wasn’t so bad after all. I was beginning to think that we should just forget about Enemy Pie.

Art by Tara Calahan King

Losing a Best Enemy

But after dinner, Dad brought out the pie and cut it into slices.

“Dad,” I said, “it’s sure nice having a new friend in the neighborhood.” I was trying to tell him that Jeremy was no longer my enemy. But Dad only smiled and nodded. I think he thought I was just pretending.

“Wow!” Jeremy said. “My dad never makes pies like this.” Suddenly, I panicked. I didn’t want Jeremy to eat Enemy Pie! He was my friend!

“Jeremy, don’t eat it! I think it’s poisonous or something!” Jeremy crumpled his eyebrows and looked at me funny. I felt relieved. I had saved his life. I was a hero.

“If it’s so bad,” Jeremy asked, “why has your dad already eaten half of it?” I looked at my dad. He was eating Enemy Pie!

“Good stuff,” was all Dad said. I watched them eat Enemy Pie. Dad was laughing. Jeremy was happily eating. And neither of them was losing any hair! It seemed safe enough so I took a tiny taste. Enemy Pie was delicious!

Afterward, Jeremy invited me to play on his trampoline in the morning.

I still don’t know how to make Enemy Pie. I still wonder if enemies hate it or if their hair falls out. But I don’t know if I’ll ever get an answer, because I just lost my best enemy. 

Enemy Pie © 2000 by Derek Munson. Used with permission of Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco. Visit

Slideshows (1)
Audio ()
Activities (6)
Quizzes (1)
Answer Key (1)
Slideshows (1)
Audio ()
Activities (6) Download All Quizzes and Activities
Quizzes (1)
Answer Key (1)
Can't Miss Teaching Extras
Learn More

Learn all about author Derek Munson and the inspiration behind “Enemy Pie” in this insightful interview

Watch This

Sometimes bullying is the reason kids are enemies and not friends. We all have a part to play in addressing bullying; this 4-minute video captures important dialogue between parents and kids.

Check This Out

Looking for ways to be more inclusive in the classroom? Take a look at Teaching Tolerance’s Mix It Up at Lunch Day campaign. This website is full of information, activities, and resources to help foster inclusivity at lunchtime and bring Mix It Up at Lunch Day to your school.

More About the Article

Content-Area Connections

Social-emotional learning: Social awareness (identifying emotions); relationship skills (communication, social engagement, relationship building)

Key Skills

Making inferences, key details, problem and solution, main idea, text features, character traits, expressing an opinion

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan


Preview Text Features (10 minutes)

  • Ask students to look at the title, subtitle, and illustration on pages 14 and 15. What makes the dessert in this illustration look so strange? Have students predict why the boy is going to serve the pie to his enemy. Remind them to think about their predictions as they read.
  • Direct students to the illustrations on pages 16-19. Do the boys appear to be friends or enemies? Ask students to explain their answers.
  • How do the characters appear to feel about the pie they’re eating on page 19? How is this pie different from the one on page 14? Explain that they’ll find out more about Enemy Pie as they read the story.

Introduce Vocabulary (15 minutes)

  • We have highlighted in bold six words and defined them on the page. Discuss the meaning of each word, focusing on its use in the story.
  • Preview these words with our Vocabulary Skill Builder or play our Vocabulary Slideshow.
  • Highlighted words: squinted, satisfied, boomerang, panicked, crumpled, relieved

Set a Purpose for Reading (5 minutes)

  • Call on volunteers to read aloud the Think and Read and Think and Write boxes on pages 15 and 19.
  • As they read, remind students to look for details that describe how the narrator’s feelings about Jeremy change because of his father’s Enemy Pie.


Reading and Unpacking the Text

  • First read: Read the story as a class. Have students identify story details or vocabulary they don’t understand. Ask them to think about what makes Dad’s Enemy Pie so special.
  • Use the Pause and Think question at the end of each section to check comprehension.
  • Second read: Distribute the Close-Reading and Critical-Thinking Questions to the class. Preview them together. Ask students to read the story again and answer the questions as a class or in small groups.

Close-Reading Questions (30 minutes) 

  • Read the first section. Why does the narrator start an enemy list? (key details) He needs one because he considers Jeremy Ross to be his enemy—his only one. Jeremy laughed when he struck the narrator out and didn’t invite him to his trampoline party.
  • What is Dad’s solution for getting rid of enemies? (problem and solution) He gets out his old recipe for Enemy Pie.
  • Read “What’s in It?” Why won’t Dad give the narrator his secret recipe for Enemy Pie? (making inferences) He says the recipe is a secret, but he really wants his son to figure out the meaning of Enemy Pie by himself.
  • Read “No Enemies Allowed!” Why does Jeremy seem surprised when he sees the boy at his front door? (making inferences) He’s surprised because he and the boy aren’t really friends.
  • Why is the narrator nervous when he sees Jeremy? (making inferences) He’s about to ask Jeremy, his enemy, to play with him.
  • What does the narrator mean when he says that Jeremy “wasn’t being a very good enemy”? (main idea) He and Jeremy are having such a good time playing together that he can no longer consider Jeremy an enemy.
  • How does the picture on pages 16 and 17 help you understand this part of the story? (text features) The picture shows Jeremy and the narrator playing together in the narrator’s tree house when his dad calls them down to dinner. It helps you imagine the scene that is described in this section of the story.
  • Read “Losing a Best Enemy.” What do you learn about the narrator’s character when he warns Jeremy not to eat the pie? (character traits) He now considers Jeremy to be his friend and doesn’t want him hurt. He’s kind and wants to protect his friend.
  • Why doesn’t Dad, Jeremy, or the narrator feel sick after eating Enemy Pie? (making inferences) There’s nothing harmful in the pie that Dad bakes. He baked it so his son would learn how to become friends with Jeremy.
  • At the end of the story, the narrator says, “I still don’t know how to make Enemy Pie.” Do you think that’s true? Explain. (expressing an opinion) Answers will vary. Students may say that Enemy Pie isn’t a real pie that you bake. It’s a way to become friends with someone you once considered your enemy by getting to know him. The narrator learned this lesson as his relationship with Jeremy changed.

Critical-Thinking Question (10 minutes)

  • Why does Dad say that “Enemy Pie is the fastest known way to get rid of enemies”? What lesson is he trying to teach his son? (making inferences) Baking the Enemy Pie is really a way to get his son to spend time with Jeremy. Dad wants to teach him that getting to know the person you think is your enemy will change how you feel about him. Instead of considering him an enemy, you might find out that he’s really a friend.


Making Inferences

  • Distribute our Making Inferences Skill Builder. Ask students to work in small groups to complete it.
  • Discuss the writing assignment in the Think and Write box with students. Have them discuss their letters in small groups.

Differentiate and Customize
For Small Groups

Have students read the story together. As they read, ask them to look for details that explain why the narrator thought Jeremy was his enemy. How did the boys become friends? Based on their answers, have students write a step-by-step “recipe” for Enemy Pie. Groups can discuss their recipes in class.

For Reading Partners

Ask students to read the story silently. As they read, have them look for details that describe how the narrator’s feelings toward Jeremy change from the beginning to the end of the story. What causes this change? Why does he end the story by saying “I just lost my best enemy”?

For Advanced Readers

Ask students to reread the story and identify their favorite scene. Then have them rewrite the scene from either Dad’s or Jeremy’s point of view. Students can share their scenes in small groups.

For Struggling Readers

Have students listen to the story. Ask them to find the important events in each section. List the events in chronological order. Have students identify the events that show when the narrator considers Jeremy his enemy and when he considers Jeremy his friend. When do the narrator’s feelings change?