Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Canning Season” as Want to Read:
Canning Season
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Canning Season

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  850 Ratings  ·  195 Reviews
One night out of the blue, Ratchet Clark's ill-natured mother uproots her from Florida without a second thought. Ratchet is on a train to Maine for a summer with relatives within the blink of an eye. But these aren't just any relatives. Ratchet's ninety-two-year old great-aunts, twins Penpen and Tilly, live life in their secluded home on their own terms. They were born tog ...more
Published (first published April 7th 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Canning Season, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Canning Season

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,554)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Kwesi 章英狮
Apr 24, 2011 Kwesi 章英狮 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, polly-horvath, 2011
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
Jun 01, 2011 Apokripos rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kidz!
Recommended to Apokripos 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
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
Great, great, great. And very funny.
Feb 16, 2009 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 07, 2012 Nathaniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Narrated by Julie Dretzin. Ratchet's mother Henrietta sends Ratchet off to Maine to spend the summer with her eccentric elderly aunts Penpen and Tilly. They live in a remote wooded area where the only road in is populous with bears. Their phone receives calls only and doesn't call out. They don't like visitors and only venture into town every six months to pick up their mail. During Ratchet's visit, the aunts tell stories of their past, including their mother's suicide by beheading, Tilly's wedd ...more
Mar 28, 2011 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
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
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
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
Olivia Holah
This book was added to my meh shelf. Honestly it is a super easy read and it wasn't all that interesting. It seemed very one noted to me. But I loved the name Ratchet because it seemed so fun to say in my head. The reason why the book felt one noted was because the idea of a neglectful parent, such as Ratchet's mother felt very unoriginal. I would recommend this book to somebody who can't find a book to read because that's what it felt like to me. An in-between book.
Alina Borger
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
Ratchet's life is less than ideal, but it's the life she's always known. So when her mother springs a trip on her, a summer long one, she is confused. Especially when she finds her mother isn't coming with her and it's with two relatives she's never met. Twin sisters Tilly and PenPen are eccentric and kind, two things Ratchet is not used to. In their secluded home in Maine surrounded by bears and filled with tragedy Ratchet finds her summer just beginning along with the rest of her life.

I'm a l
Jun 15, 2016 Cass rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've read this year but it gets just 4 stars for containing a couple of f-bombs and some other bad language.

Ratchet is sent to live with her mother's ancient great-aunts for the summer without any belongings as her mother forgot to put the suitcase in the car as they left for the train station. The aunts, Tilly and Penpen, open their home and hearts to the 13 year-old who has never had much in the way of possessions, friends, or love. When another girl shows up on the door
Preston Shewell
Feb 17, 2015 Preston Shewell rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-1-12
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.
May 30, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, uplifting
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
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
Feb 20, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is rather a special book. It manages to be dark and funny and over the top, and deeply felt at the same time. In this world things really aren't OK... people abandon you, life deals you strange afflictions, the people who are supposed to love you automatically can't be counted on to do so, there *are* bears in the woods... and yet in the end it's about all the ways that it can be OK to not be OK; that the world still has all sorts of things to offer you even if you or your life are ...more
Oct 20, 2015 Carmen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an odd little book! I say "little" because it's a whopping 196 pages. I should have been able to read it in a day, but found myself distracted and not altogether committed to Canning. That is the reason for 3 looks as opposed to more.

It was cleverly written, had a nice flow, diverse characters, and an interesting injection of oddities. However, it fell flat for me. I liked the older twins very much, but felt that they were a little one dimensional. Other than the gruesome death of their m
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
May 24, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 08, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
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
Feb 28, 2011 Parksy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent quick read.
Lovely characters, and a excellent no gimmicks needed character piece.

------- 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
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
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
Apr 26, 2011 Haylee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 51 52 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida
  • Dancing on the Edge
  • Miss Smithers (Alice MacLeod, #2)
  • Touching Snow
  • From Charlie's Point of View
  • Daughters of Madness: Growing Up and Older with a Mentally Ill Mother
  • Goblin Secrets (Zombay, #1)
  • Irlanda
  • The Legend of Buddy Bush
  • Words By Heart
  • Autobiography of My Dead Brother
  • Sun & Spoon
  • Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s: Laura / The Horizontal Man / In a Lonely Place / The Blank Wall
  • Gigi, Julie de Carneilhan, and Chance Acquaintances: Three Short Novels
  • Leaving the Bellweathers
  • Harlem Stomp!: A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance
  • Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead
  • Count Karlstein
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...

Share This Book

“And, I often think, the truth isn't good or bad, it's just the truth.” 5 likes
“People can be hurt so badly that they choose to just stop in their tracks.” 4 likes
More quotes…