CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005
The Pepins, though not unlike most other suburban families on the surface – mother, father, daughter, son, pets, house, school, jobs, neighbors, etc. – are actually quite different once you get to know them. For one thing, their pets can talk and, on occasion, fly halfway across the country, which might not be that great an achievement were they birds or bats or butterflies, but the Pepins’ pets are a dog and a cat. The other noteworthy difference between the Pepins and most other families is the nature of the problems they encounter and the means by which they solve them.
As the title implies, the book is an endless parade of Pepin problems, beginning with toads in their shoes and ending (only because the book does – the Pepins’ problems go on forever) with the mysterious disappearance of their cutlery. It is perhaps unfair to criticize the Pepins too harshly for their inability to solve their dilemmas without help from others, since the majority of their misfortunes are somewhat unique. Besides, group problem-solving is the whole point of the book.
It is an interactive venture. To my knowledge, The Pepins and Their Problems is the first – perhaps the only – book to actively involve readers in the story. Polly Horvath, it appears, has been gifted with an uncanny ability to hear the thoughts of readers throughout all of Canada (it’s rather like Santa’s ability to see good and bad children, but on a literary level), and each time the Pepins get bogged down, Horvath opens the airwaves, and a flurry of potential solutions pour in from such quaint-sounding places as Witless Bay, Newfoundland, Spuzzum, B.C., Pickle Lake, Ontario, and Saint-Louis-du-Ha!Ha!, Quebec. The Pepins choose one of these offerings, the problem is solved (sort of), and the little family moves on to the next disaster.
The Pepins and Their Problems is a silly book with a capital SILLY! But every now and then, that’s exactly what readers need. This book would be great fun for adults and children to share, either as a classroom read-aloud or chapter by chapter at bedtime.
Kristin Butcher lives in Victoria, BC, and writes books for children.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.