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THE PEPINS AND THEIR PROBLEMS by Polly Horvath Kirkus Star


by Polly Horvath & illustrated by Marylin Hafner

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 2004
ISBN: 0-374-35817-6
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Horvath puts a distinctive and decidedly hilarious spin on the “problem novel” with this chronicle of a family’s unusual (to say the least) mishaps. She also carries the metafictional conceits of Allen Ahlberg’s Better Brown Stories (1995) and such a step further—for not only does she converse with her characters, she invites readers to chime in psychically from wherever they may be, duly recording any suggestions she “receives,” along with their towns of origin. Poor Pepins: if it’s not a rash of toads in their shoes, or a cow who’s suddenly giving lemonade when it’s cheese that’s in short supply, it’s Mrs. Pepin’s latest crying jag, or the mysterious disappearance of all the tableware. Young readers won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough to discover the Pepins’ newest predicament, to find out its seldom-obvious cause, to check out the reader comments winging in from the likes of Boring, MD, Forks of Cacapon, WV, and other real places—but mostly to meet the Pepins, part Bagthorpes, part fugitives from Chelm, and their fittingly quirky neighbors, all of whom are rendered in Hafner’s sunny, simply drawn cartoons. A delight. (Fiction. 10-12)