Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE TROLLS by Polly Horvath

THE TROLLS

By Polly Horvath

Pub Date: March 30th, 1999
ISBN: 0-374-37787-1
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

An unconventional aunt blows in from Vancouver to pinch-hit as a babysitter, and offers two sisters and their brother an entrancing view of family history. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson have nonrefundable tickets for a trip to Paris, but their babysitter has canceled on short notice. When all other options fail, mysterious Aunt Sally arrives to spend a week with ten-year-old Melissa, eight-year-old Amanda, and six-year-old Frank, unkindly referred to by his sisters as Pee Wee. With platform shoes that lace up to her knees, and eyes full of mischief, Aunt Sally is unlike anyone they’ve ever met, and has never been discussed by their father—her brother. Her stories are full of colorful characters, such as a beautiful man who coaxes one relative out of mourning; Mrs. Gunderson, the dog next door; and, of course, their father, Robbie, who was the baby of the family. The stories build on each other, made suspenseful by Aunt Sally’s maddening habit of leaving parts of them untold. Some of the stories are downright spooky, especially the ones about the trolls; Robbie was left on the beach with them one night and his and Sally’s relationship was never the same. Most sections are also hilarious, as is the snappy and perfectly timed dialogue. Melissa’s succinct definitions of entries in Aunt Sally’s large vocabulary provide a thread of humor throughout, as does Aunt Sally’s faithful regard for Pee Wee despite his dismissive older sisters. After the last laugh, Aunt Sally’s hard-won understanding of human nature will leave readers with plenty to ponder. (Fiction. 8-12)