Saturday, September 5, 2015

Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath

Source of book: Audiobook from the library

Earlier this year, the children introduced me to another Polly Horvath book, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, Detectives Extraordinaire. After listening to this one, Everything on a Waffle, I have to conclude that Polly Horvath is, beyond a doubt, a bit odd. My wife opines that this may be the result of living in Canada, where it is winter most of the year. This may be a workable theory.

In any case, Horvath has a tendency to make subtle digs at stuff grownups do and like, from the hippie lifestyle in Mr. and Mrs. Bunny to child psychology in this book. In both books, the adults are, for the most part, not particularly good at listening or responding to the children. Even the ones with good intentions seem unable to really connect, with one exception in this book.

When Primrose’s parents disappear at sea in a storm, she refuses to believe they are dead. Her flat aspect and general lack of visible emotion troubles everyone, from the school counsellor on down. After it becomes apparent that she cannot indefinitely stay with her babysitter (while the town pays the hourly rate), she is foisted on her uncle, who isn’t quite sure what to do with her. The only person who seems to really understand is Ms. Bowser, who runs the local cafe, “The Girl on the Red Swing,” which serves everything, literally, on top of a waffle.

One particular bit stood out. The counsellor, Miss Honeycutt, tells lots of anecdotes, but eventually Primrose comes to realise that this is because she isn’t really all that interesting. The stories make up for a lack of real depth. The stories may seem to be about other people, but they are really just about what Miss Honeycutt did and thought, and show no understanding of what the other people were thinking. This is true of how Miss Honeycutt interacts with Primrose as well. Always talking, never truly listening. And indeed, with the exception of Ms. Bowser, nobody really does seem to listen to Primrose, even her uncle, who is really trying.

At the end of each chapter is a recipe (based on something from that chapter.) Some sounded edible. Others, not so much, as my culinarily experienced kids pointed out. I suspect they are aimed at “children,” which often means shortcuts and too much sugar. Oh well. In any event, the food is often used for humorous purposes. After all, lasagne on a waffle is just a bit over-the-top.

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