________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 14 . . . . March 15, 2002

cover Everything on a Waffle.

Polly Horvath.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 2001.
179 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 0-88899-442-7.

Subject Headings:
Parent and child-Fiction.
Foster home care-Fiction.
British Columbia-Fiction.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Anne Letain.

*** /4


I live in Coal Harbour, British Columbia. I have never lived anyplace else. My name is Primrose Squarp. I am eleven years old. I have hair the color of carrots in an apricot glaze (recipe to follow), skin fair and clear where it isn't freckled, and eyes like summer storms.

Everything On A Waffle owes its existence to that long lineage of books written for children featuring spunky female orphans. Perhaps it is fitting that this book was selected as a Newbery Honor Book around the same time that Astrid Lindgren, the creator of the intrepid Pippi Longstocking, died. B.C. author Polly Horvath is a natural nominee to wear Lindgren's mantle.

     Everything On A Waffle is the story of Primrose Squarp - a spunky almost orphan who cooks and, of course, triumphs over adversity in the end. Primrose "survives" in the quaint community of Coal Harbour on Vancouver Island after her parents are lost at sea. The usual cast of eccentrics and misfits try to smother Primrose with well intentioned assistance to help her overcome her loss. These characters include a distant uncle summoned to care for Primrose, an uptight school counselor with questionable motives, an elderly neighbour with memory problems, a dotty pair of foster parents, and the heart of gold owner of the local restaurant which serves everything on a waffle and which provides the rationale for the recipes presented at the end of each chapter.

     There is no question that this book is well conceived and well written and very humourous. Polly Horvath carries off both comedy and sadness adeptly and with finesse. However, there is something in this book that seems to cater to adult nostalgia rather than revealing Primrose's poin t of view and the preoccupations of childhood. Primrose sometimes seems to be an adult in an eleven-year-old's body, and her observations on life seem somewhat precocious. In fact, her voice is very similar to that of Aunt Sally in Horvath's acclaimed The Trolls.

     The pace of the book is brisk and energetic and the humour clever. Any novel that can make two amputations funny has to be commended. And ultimately, Primrose is an appealing heroine who earns her well deserved happy ending.

Highly Recommended.

Anne Letain is a teacher-librarian and school library consultant in southern Alberta.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364