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The Canning Season

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  740 ratings  ·  177 reviews
Love under trying circumstances

One night out of the blue, Ratchet Clark’s ill-natured mother tells her that Ratchet will be leaving their Pensacola apartment momentarily to take the train up north. There she will spend the summer with her aged relatives Penpen and Tilly, inseparable twins who couldn’t look more different from each other. Staying at their secluded house, Ra
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Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 4th 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published April 7th 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,295)
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Kwesi 章英狮
I really enjoyed listening to old stories of my aunts, uncles and most of all my grandparents. I really love my grandfather but he died before I ask him his love story and his life in Ilo-ilo fighting for his life from the cruelty of the Japanese armies. At least I still have my grandmother who can still talk but cannot remember everything from her past, but I know some of her secrets and stories that inspire me for so long still there are probabilities that she made fictitious stories.

My mom is
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jzhunagev
Jun 01, 2011 jzhunagev rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Kidz!
Recommended to jzhunagev by: Kwesi Ian Jay Junsan
A Can of Humor and Warmth
(A Book Review of Polly Horvath’s The Canning Season)


Thirteen year old Ratchet Clark is a girl living in a windowless and grimy “sub-basement apartment” in Pensacola, Florida with her self-centered mom Henriette who has an unreasonable longing to become a member of the classy Hunts Club. Named after a tool by her mother to spite her no-good father, forbidden to make friends, with Cheerios as her only source of sustenance and taught at an early age to be mortally ashamed
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Jim Erekson
Well, the book has been out for eleven years already. But I am a late-comer to Polly Horvath so here I am. This is hands down one of the best YA novels I've ever read.

Polly Horvath pulls no punches when she decides to let her characters go down difficult paths. There is a lot of Dickens and fairy-tales in the background with themes of abandonment, rescue, and self-reliance. But it's the way Horvath does it all that makes the book shine. Her prose and dialog are inviting and rhythmic. Tilly and
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Kevin
Great, great, great. And very funny.
Carrie
I bought this book because it was on sale at the bookstore downstairs in my building, and was the winner of the 2003 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. When I started it, I feared it was going to be one of those really odd children's books, the kind that wins awards, because grown-ups like it, but is too unsettling for actual children (such as, in my humble opinion, Tuck Everlasting, which I am sorry but is the creepiest damn book around - and I like Natalie Babbit). The book con ...more
Nathaniel
This book, meant (surprisingly) for children, was consistently funny and dark and vivid and odd. Nothing about the way the story unfolds is predictable, but at the same time, Horvath secures you so completely and convincingly with the characters and their setting (a rambling old house on the coast of Maine) that the twists and turns the story takes not only surprise you, they make you feel even more included in the offbeat nature of these character's lives. Ratchet, Tilly, Penpen and, eventually ...more
Elizabeth
Amazing! I read it while in the woods in Maine.
Saskia Marijke Niehorster-Cook
Meandering in Portland, Oregon, we discovered the LARGEST bookstore in the whole world! It was a block long and wide, but inside were many different levels! Each one had different kinds of books. Only trouble was: We had barely one hour to be in it! I was so cranky about it, that when the kids came rushing over asking me to help them find their books i almost shouted at them: "Get lost", which would not have been too difficult. I knew there was no way any of us would have time enough, even if we ...more
Arminzerella
Ratchet (named for the tool) is sent to spend the summer with her great aunts - 91 year old twins, Tilly and Penpen - because her mother can't be bothered to look after her. Her mother is a strange and carelessly cruel person who casually abandons her daughter into the care of these estranged relatives who Ratchet has never met. They may be strange, but at least they are kind - if somewhat distracted. Ratchet is joined at the aunts by another young woman who is also abandoned by her caregiver wh ...more
Jessica
My initial impression of this book is that it's almost exactly like the movie Secondhand Lions (though not nearly as good), which came out the same year (which one came first, I wonder...). Anyway, for being an award-winning book, this was very disappointing. The writing style is choppy, which makes it somewhat irritating to read, and there isn't any real...substance to the plot. There really isn't a plot, actually, until about halfway through the book, but even once it shows it's face, it reall ...more
Alina
Just finished reading The Canning Season by Polly Horvath. It's a bizarre little gem of character study. I found myself convicted by this particular exchange:

"You gals ought to keep abreast of things," said Mr. Feebles.

"Why?" asked Tilly grumpily. "What good does it do you? It seems to me, from what you've been telling us, that everyone these days knows everything about everyone and the split second it happens, too. What do they do with all this information? What does it get them? It just clutte
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Preston Shewell
The Canning Season is a humor about a young teenage girl named Ratchet whose mother sends her off to live with her aunts, who live deep in the woods in a large house on a large plot of land. During her stay, her hostesses tell her a myriad of stories from their past in the area, and strangers suddenly and frequently turn up at their door after years of solitude.

While the book received a National Book Award, I don't understand why. Very little happens, and there are only a few truly funny parts.
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Laura
It took me a couple chapters to really get into this book but once I did I just loved it. My family has always had a rather odd and somewhat macabre sense of humor (it can sometimes get me into trouble in certain company) so this book was right up my alley. Tim Burton comes to my mind when I think of this story and I could easily imagine the characters in his stop motion animation style. I really enjoyed how the 2 young characters evolved throughout the book and I of course loved PenPen and Till ...more
Tommy Bailey

Ratchet Clark mother informs her that Ratchet will be leaving town for a little while and take a train to go help take care of her relatives Penpen and Tilly. While staying with them, Rachel learns more about her family than she could even think of. One rule that Penpen has is that whoever comes to the front door most be let into the house. We are introduced to a number of different characters throughout the story and we learn that even strangers can bring out the best in everybody.

I would recom
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Tiffany
What an amusing and hilarious read. Real life is given such a lovely twist that Horvath makes everything seem ok after all. Thirteen-year old Ratchet spends her summer with her aunts Penpen and Tilly in the woods out in the middle of nowhere in Maine. It is a beautiful story of love, wisdom, and self-independence. The aunts' blueberry business, along with their house, gets inherited by Ratchet and Harper, which is very endearing since the two girls’ could not count on their own mothers. A fantas ...more
Richie Partington
17 August 2003 THE CANNING SEASON by Polly Horvath, Farrar Straus Giroux, May 2003, ISBN 0-374-39956-5

" 'How can we have opinions if we have no idea what you're talking about?' asked Penpen gently.
" 'You gals ought to keep abreast of things,' said Mr. Feebles.
" 'Why?' asked Tilly grumpily. 'What good does it do you? It seems to me, from what you've been telling us, that everyone these days knows everything about everyone and the split second it happens, too. What do they do with all this informa
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Jennifer
All of the poetry and lyricism in Horvath's writing that I love, but with a plot isn't weighed down but it. Rachet, the protagonist, is more of an observer than participant, but I feel it works better than in other Horvath books. Particularly when Harper shows up- much of the beginning of the book is filled with the nostalgic stories of Rachet's aunts, but Harper's arrival forces the story and characters into action.

This book didn't shy away from some big topics: death, fractured and untradition
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Elizabeth
13-year-old Ratchet has a "thing" on her shoulder blade that mortifies her status-seeking mother. Even so, Ratchet is quite surprised when her mother dumps her with her 91-year-old twin aunts, sisters Tilly and PenPen Menuto. These are rather unique women… they loathe their local nickname of "the blueberry ladies"--it is much too sweet. They far prefer being called "those queer Menuto women," and they are perfectly happy for the world to stay far away from their remote house in the bear-infested ...more
Parksy
Excellent quick read.
Lovely characters, and a excellent no gimmicks needed character piece.

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Amazon.com Review
As in Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, Polly Horvath tells the story of an abandoned child who is sent to live with two distant relatives in a big, lonely house. The magic in Horvath's story, however, lies not in talking bugs but in the hearts and minds of its characters. Thirteen-year-old Ratchet Clark, a girl with a deformity on her shoulder blade her breezily cruel, self-a
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Amy Gwynn
On the whole, the book didn't do a lot for me, but I'm not a Young Adult. The neglectful parent idea is a little unoriginal, but it seems to always have a welcome home in YA novels. However, the parent-less situation is something I believe a lot of young people think about, even if they don't have to deal with it. This book is good in that Ratchet thrives in her new situation as she rises above her mother's careless attitude.

I didn't like, let's be honest, how boring the book was. I was glad it
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Michael Elrod
From the beginning this book had a very "Secondhand Lions" feel to it. Deadbeat parent leaving their kids with estranged relatives, and the children "growing up," under the care of those who were not intended to raise them...I definitely thought this book was intended for the younger end of the young adult spectrum. I thought it contained great characters. Nearly every chapter introduced a new interesting character with a short background, and how they related to Penpen, and Tilly. Take for inst ...more
Haylee
Surprisingly, I enjoyed reading this book. It's not one of my all time favorite books, nor would I necessarily recommend it, but there were qualities that I really enjoyed. First of all, it is a simple story on a complex matter. Through Rachet and Harper, I realized that good things still happen to those who are outcasts of their own family. Second, the characters were fairly relatable and nothing is too eccentric, except for maybe the bears and a few other things. I'm not for sure why bears are ...more
Julia Pineda
I don't know what it is about this book- I can't quite put my finger on it, because in all reality, nothing extraordinary happens, or nothing super suspensful-but I walked away from it feeling extremely satisfied and content. I enjoyed it immensely. I gave it three stars because like I said, it is not a five-there is nothing truly outrageous to garner such a review. Yet, it kept me reading and enthralled the entire time. I think that there is something so relatable about the book and its strange ...more
Janessa Brown
As the characters bounce in and out of this secluded manor in the woods, some see it as terrifying, isolating, or disgusting. However, Tilly, Penpen, Ratchet, and Harper find a sort of peace, serenity, and safety within the bear infested woods. The first thing that bothered me about this story, was that it seemed the author was justifying running from your problems. However, I believe she did a good job of showing how different people react to bad (or any) situations. All have suffered pain, rem ...more
Robbie
I do not particularly care for this book. I suppose if I wanted to turn my brain off and be numb for more than an hour this is the sort of book I would pick up.
It does have its okay bits, they are crammed in between the bits of sweet nothings of information. I found the book to be rather predictable, I saw right through the plot. It was agonizing to read through this book, the plot was boring and unsophisticated. Personally I think this is not a book a teenager should read, they would be bored s
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Maren
Ratchet is a teenager who is semi-neglected by her mother. When her mother gets an opportunity, she sends Ratchet to her ancient aunts in Maine. While there, Ratchet learns about the suicide of her aunts mother, among other almost unbelievable tales of her aunts. Ratchet changes the aunts by helping them become reinvigorated with life. One of the things that she helps one of her aunts convince the other to adopt another girl who was accidentally dropped off at their house.

I really enjoyed this
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Ruthie
This is the second book I've read by Polly Horvath. At the beginning of both books, I found myself thinking that the characters were too zany to be realistic. Her characters have odd stories in their histories, strange names, interesting habits. My first instinct is that this is not going to be a heart-warming book - nothing to take seriously. But then I suddenly realize that I'm caught up in the story and that I really do care what happens to the characters.

As I'm processing the book, I think
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Edward Von
I've liked Polly Horvath since I read her "Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, Detectives Extraordinaire," which came out last year, and this is the fourth book of hers I've read. I like her stuff: it's cute, without being too much (except maybe the book with rabbit detectives,) but has a slightly dark side to it. This book is very heavy on the dark. It's set in a decrepit house in the middle of a wood inhabited by man-eating bears: a young girl is sent there to spend the summer with her eccentric great aunts b ...more
Grace
This book was recommended to me by my mom with praise. Usually we completely agree on books, especially children's books but I just didn't enjoy The Canning Season as much as I had expected to. It actually took me three goes before I finished the entire book. It was difficult to put my finger on exactly what was the problem, especially considering this book is rather short. I wouldn't have finished it at all had my mom not kept bringing it up and because I wanted to get her to read something els ...more
Brianne
When I started to read "The Canning Season" I wasn't sure what to expect. First off, the mother named her daughter Ratchet, which I didn't really understand. However, as I read more and more into it I really started to enjoy the book. It is a simple read book and if you can get into it, it's actually at a fairly fast pace.

I thought the structure of the book was interesting. Sometimes I couldn't remember if we were in a story that one of the characters were telling or if it was back to the reali
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Polly Horvath is the author of many books for young people, including Everything on a Waffle, The Pepins and Their Problems, The Canning Season and The Trolls. Her numerous awards include the Newbery Honor, the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature, the Mr. Christie Award, the international White Raven ...more
More about Polly Horvath...
Everything on a Waffle (Coal Harbour #1) Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire! (The Bunny's #1) My One Hundred Adventures (My One Hundred Adventures #1) The Trolls One Year in Coal Harbor (Coal Harbour #2)

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