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The Pepins and Their Problems


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About the Author

Polly Horvath is the author of many books for young people, including Everything on a Waffle, The Canning Season and The Trolls. Her numerous awards include the Newbery Honor, the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature, the Mr. Christie Award, the international White Raven, and the Young Adult Canadian Book of the Year. Horvath grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She attended the Canadian College of Dance in Toronto and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York City. She has taught ballet, waitressed, done temporary typing, and tended babies, but while doing these things she has always also written. Now that her children are in school, she spends the whole day writing, unless she sneaks out to buy groceries, lured away from her desk by the thought of fresh Cheez Whiz. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and two daughters.Marylin Hafner has illustrated numerous children's books. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Following her National Book Award-winning dark comedy The Canning Season, Horvath reprises the unalloyed giddiness of Everything on a Waffle-and ups the ante with some outrageous, Pirandello-like flourishes. Seemingly dire problems forever loom over the Pepin family: toads lurk in their shoes, or their hot chocolate has grown too cold to drink. Their addled responses (nobody would ever think of simply reheating the chocolate) group them with the beloved fools of Harry Allard and James Marshall's Stupids books and of Chelm tales. The difference is that Horvath impishly colludes with the audience. She inserts "the author" as a character, too, a great psychic who can receive suggestions from readers: "If you put one finger on each temple and concentrate, she will be able to hear your solution and share it with the Pepins and other readers." The narrative folds in ideas from "readers" (these are invariably as ridiculous as the Pepins' own). "Wait! Yes, my antennae quiver," writes Horvath during the hot-chocolate conundrum. "One dear reader from Brookline, Massachusetts, thinks that all the Pepins need to do is find a very successful writer and have him or her blow some hot air on the cold chocolate" (the Pepins dismiss the notion, because of "all those germs"). If the end seems a bit abrupt, no matter: the sly running jokes about place names and brazenly funny developments keep the conceit and the comedy energetic all the way to the finish line. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Gr 4-6-Listeners play an integral role in this audio adaptation of Polly Horvath's delightfully creative tale (Farrar, 2004). The Pepins are a bumbling family who, along with their equally clueless but good-hearted neighbor, Mr. Bradshaw, find themselves in a number of scrapes (or "problems") that listeners must help solve. The author is the conduit between the potentially helpful thoughts of listeners and the puzzled minds of the books' characters. Children and adults will find themselves shouting solutions as the author relays some of the suggestions she has thus far received (via perceptive psychic antennae) from listeners across North America. Narrator Julie Halston is careful and even in her reading, which balances the zaniness of the characters and their antics. Occasional changes from the original text, all of which relate to the reader being termed a listener, occur throughout. A fun romp.-Jennifer Iserman, Dakota County Library, Burnhaven Branch, Burnsville, MN Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Following her National Book Award-winning dark comedy The Canning Season, Horvath reprises the unalloyed giddiness of Everything on a Waffle--and ups the ante with some outrageous, Pirandello-like flourishes . . . the sly running jokes about place names and brazenly funny developments keep the conceit and the comedy energetic all the way to the finish line." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review"Distinctive and decidedly hilarious . . . Young readers won't be able to turn the pages fast enough to discover the Pepins' newest predicament. . . . A delight." --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review"Horvath spins deliciously silly stories about a family rivaling Hale's Peterkins for foolishness and Cresswell's Bagthorpes for effervescent wit. Each preposterous event holds fresh surprise. . . . Hafner's line drawings visualize the shenanigans with comic amiability. Here's one reader beaming thoughts to both author and illustrator: Thanks for the laughs! More, please!" --The Horn Book Magazine, Starred Review"The sly humor is just right for upper-elementary-school kids, and this book should be a fun read-aloud for younger listeners." --School Library Journal"Horvath spins a delightful yarn . . . the wordplay is a great argument for reading this aloud; adults will enjoy the story almost as much as children." --Booklist

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