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THE CANNING SEASON by Polly Horvath Kirkus Star


by Polly Horvath

Pub Date: May 7th, 2003
ISBN: 0-374-39956-5
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Horvath tops even Everything on a Waffle (2001) with this hilarious, heartrending tale of two unwanted children left with a pair of eccentric old ladies. As softhearted as her hard-drinking twin sister, Tilly, is surly, Penpen Menuto proclaims a willingness to welcome all who come to the door of their isolated old house—a resolve that is sorely tested by the twin entrances of mousy Ratchet Ratchet Clark, a distant relative, and Harper, a sharp-tongued adolescent raised, then abandoned, by a ne’er-do-well aunt. Subjecting their new charges to wonderfully lurid family stories and conversational volleys that tend to veer violently off-course, the 91-year-old twins both provide care, and need it—a combination that ultimately leads to Ratchet’s blossoming, and to Harper showing the worthy spirit beneath a truly rough-cut exterior. Though Tilly’s old heart finally gives out at the end, the author alleviates the tragedy with an epilogue describing how everyone else turns out (well). Once again Horvath displays a genius for creating multigenerational, interestingly extended families, and for blending high and low comedy into a tale rife with important themes and life-changing events. (Fiction. 11-13)