Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The Canning Season

Horvath, Polly. 2003. THE CANNING SEASON. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0374399565 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-9]


With hopes of ridding herself of the burden of being a mother so she can focus on trying to gain acceptance into a country club, the status-seeking Henriette sends her thirteen-year-old daughter Ratchet away to spend a summer in the backwoods of Maine with her eccentric great-aunts Tilly and Penpen who fill the days with strange stories of the past.

Painting characters that are unpredictable and often hilarious is one of Horvath’s greatest gifts. While the plot provides much comical relief (a pair of abandoned girls living with a pair of ancient, eccentric women in a bear-infested part of Maine) the story is really a character study. Horvath places Ratchet in the care of the twin sisters so that their stories may unfold. Each tale is more ludicrous and shocking than the last, including Penpen’s experience of tripping over their depressed mother’s head after she had decapitated herself and their governess who referred to them as “you little fucks.” This bizarre and newly found family unit is rounded out when Harper, an outspoken teen who is abandoned at the home when it is mistakenly taken for an orphanage, arrives. While the stories move beyond bizarre, the characters are so multi-layered; readers will come to appreciate the idiosyncrasies of their world.


After a discussion of the story, readers could select their favorite scene from the book and illustrate it.

Readers could write a chapter to serve as a sequel of the book, taking the information contained in the epilogue to guide the story.

If you like THE CANNING SEASON, try:
Dahl, Roald. JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. ISBN 0679880909
Snicket, Lemony. THE BAD BEGINNING. ISBN 0060283122

Other works by Horvath:
THE TROLLS. ISBN 0374377871

By Rose Brock

No comments: