9780374377878 / 0374377871

The Trolls


Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)



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About the book:

"All Sunday, the children made the most of Aunt Sally. She finished their Halloween costumes, proved a tireless player of cribbage and I Doubt It, read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories out loud, using just the right expression, and never put a lid on the cookie jar. She was, all in all, the most satisfactory grownup the children had ever known."

Transported into their lives not with an umbrella like Mary Poppins, but equally as dramatically, Aunt Sally is introduced to the Ohio-dwelling Anderson family when Mom and Dad are off to Paris and in dire need of a last-minute babysitter. Aunt Sally, however, was not Mr. Anderson's first choice. Aunt Sally is his sister, and part of a past he would rather forget.

Ten-year-old Melissa, 8-year-old Amanda, and 6-year-old Frank (alias Pee Wee) know nothing of their aunt, except that every year she sends a Christmas card from Vancouver Island with a picture of a moose with tree lights strung on it. Still, it doesn't take long for the children to warm up to her, this unusual, beehive-sporting, sparkly-eyed woman who lets them draw monsters with her eyeliner, uses string beans as walrus tusks at dinner, and tells extraordinary stories about her family history, all of which she insists are true, even the ones about the trolls. The eerie troll story in particular gives us a glimpse into the psyche of the children's father--young Robbie at the time--who is left on the beach by his siblings as an offering to the trolls, in the event that trolls existed. Even though the search parties found him, he was still somehow missing: "...I guess knowing that your own trusted family could give you away, even in jest, well, it changes things. It changes things forever.... He wasn't, in the end, ever with us again."

Aunt Sally's other stories--including the ones about the Fat Little Mean Girl and Maud who shot 80 "cougars"--are fascinating, truly hilarious, artfully timed, and wonderfully detailed, and readers will be as entranced as the Anderson children. Polly Horvath has concocted a superb, funny, poignant book that stares both the fantastical and factual parts of family history in the eye and doesn't look away. "What trolls?" said their father when he came back from Paris. "Doris, did you unpack my gray sweater?" (Ages 8 to 12) --Karin Snelson

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