In the small Canadian town of Coal Harbour, in a quaint restaurant called The Girl on the Red Swing, everything comes on a waffle--lasagna, fish, you name it. Even waffles! Eleven-year-old Primrose Squarp loves this homey place, especially its owner, Kate Bowzer, who takes her under her wing, teaches her how to cook, and doesn't patronize or chastise her, even when she puts her guinea pig too close to the oven and it catches fire. Primrose can use a little extra attention. Her parents were lost at sea, and everyone but her thinks they are dead. Her Uncle Jack, who kindly takes her in, is perfectly nice, but doesn't have much time on his hands. Miss Perfidy, her paid babysitter-guardian, smells like mothballs and really doesn't like children, and her school guidance counselor, Miss Honeycut, an uppity British woman of the world, is too caught up in her own long-winded stories to be any kind of confidante. Nobody knows what exactly to think of young Primrose, and Primrose doesn't quite know what to make of her small community, either.
She entertains herself in a variety of ways--mostly by wryly observing those around her with wisdom, compassion, and slightly cynical humor that belie her years. She also sits on the dock and waits for her parents to get back, goes to the store and tells the grocer the cottage cheese has expired (not appreciated), and writes recipes that her mother taught her in a memo pad. About Caramel Apples, she writes: "Do not muck around with chocolate or nuts or anything else fancy that may tempt you. It will only gum up the works. Sometimes you get tempted to make something wonderful even better, but in doing so you lose what was so wonderful to begin with." Everything on a Waffle is ultimately a folksy, Garrison Keillor-style take on small-town life, spiced with sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant anecdotes about the quirks and adventures of individual townspeople as seen through Primrose's wise eyes. It's a quiet, but very funny book, infused with the hope of a girl who knows in her heart that there are things that science, and even the uppity Miss Honeycut, can't explain. We first were introduced to author Polly Horvath with her National Book Award finalist, The Trolls, which you absolutely have to read if you haven't already! (Ages 9 to 13) --Karin Snelson
From Publishers Weekly
Horvath (The Trolls) delivers another hilariously puckish read with this tale of a (possibly) orphaned girl from a small Canadian fishing village. Eleven-year-old Primrose Squarp refuses to attend the memorial service for her parents after they disappear at sea. "Haven't you ever just known something deep in your heart without reason?" she demands of all and sundry, convinced her parents are still alive. Meanwhile, she is shuffled from the custody of her elderly neighbor Miss Perfidy to her likable but somewhat feckless Uncle Jack. Not unlike another beloved red-haired Canadian heroine, Primrose whose own hair is "the color of carrots in an apricot glaze (recipe to follow)" attracts trouble like a magnet. In addition to singeing the fur on the class guinea pig, she manages to lose a baby toe and part of a finger in chapters entitled "I Lose a Toe" and "I Lose Another Digit" accidents that land her in the foster care of an older couple whose stature and girth give them the look of "kindly old hard-boiled eggs." Primrose's lively recital of her misadventures comes complete with recipes, pungent descriptions ("the feeling of joy swept through my soul like fire up a vacuum") and memorable characters, among them the tough-talking, golden-hearted owner of a local restaurant that serves everything (even fish and chips) on waffles. A laugh-out-loud pleasure from beginning to triumphant end. Ages 10-up.
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