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Austen to Zafón

Reading widely since 1972.

Currently reading

A London Family, 1870-1900: A Trilogy
Molly Hughes
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas
All the Names
José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
Down the Garden Path
Beverley Nichols
Virtue Betray'd, Or, Anna Bullen
John Banks
Year of Wonders
Geraldine Brooks
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Illusion in java
Gene Fowler
Everything on a Waffle - Polly Horvath I was at Goodwill buying piles of books for my 6-year-old son and in addition to books he'll like now, I buy books I think he might like later. I didn't care for the cheesy, cartoonish cover, but it was a hardcover and it had a Newberry Honor Book sticker on it, so I figured for 69 cents, it was worth the risk. I pre-read it and was surprised that it wasn't nearly as corny as the cover. In fact, I enjoyed the book quite a bit and it was a quick evening's read. Eleven-year-old Primrose Squarp (love that name) lives in the small, harbor town of Coal Harbor in British Columbia, where the main sources of income are whaling, fishing, and the navy. One night, when her father is out at sea, there is a big storm and her mother is so worried that she takes a small boat and goes after him, but neither return. The rest of the book is how Primrose copes with this. She refuses to believe that her parents are dead. She thinks they must be stranded somewhere and will come back. The many colorful characters in town deal with her unremitting optimism differently. Some tease her, some try to convince her they're dead, some just accept her optimism for what it is regardless of what they themselves believe. Primrose is a wise and funny girl, but not precociously so and not in an irritating or unrealistic way. She just knows what she knows and she's not going to be swayed by others. And like many kids whose survival depends on reading people, she's perceptive about human nature. The title comes from a local dive restaurant, run by Miss Bowzer, a salt-of-the-earth woman who smokes while she cooks and serves everything on a waffle, including steak and fish & chips. "Miss Bowzer said it gave the restaurant class. Also, she liked to give the customer a little something extra." Miss Bowzer was one of my favorite characters. If you're expecting the book to be heart-wrenching or moving or sentimental, you'll be disappointed. It is from the perspective of an 11-year-old who is rarely surprised by anything and has little time for heart-warming sentiment. I like her summing up: "And it was always like that in Coal Harbor. Some people got old and some died. I left parts of myself some places and found others unexpectedly. New people appeared on the scene and others disappeared before I had a chance to say goodbye. All kinds of ordinary people gave their whole hearts to things you wouldn't think you could give your heart to."