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

The Canning Season

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,063 ratings  ·  237 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, R
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 7th 2003 by Farrar Straus Giroux (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 The Canning Season, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Canning Season

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,063 ratings  ·  237 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Kwesi 章英狮
Dec 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2011, polly-horvath
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 a little bit cha
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Refreshing, delightful, authentic. Not every neglected child will see herself in either girls' shoes, but most children, whether lucky enough to have aunts like these or not, will laugh at the funny bits, and feel the worries at the suspenseful bits.

And, btw, I have no real idea why some reviewers think there's no plot. Of course there is! I won't spell it out, as that would be spoilery, but honestly, did those readers just skim the book or what? Maybe they don't have hearts open to
May 19, 2011 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 o
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jim Erekson
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Feb 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Great, great, great. And very funny.
Saskia Marijke Niehorster-Cook
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 22, 2011 rated it liked it
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 Borger
Jan 18, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
Preston Shewell
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
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 f
Olivia Holah
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
Amazing! I read it while in the woods in Maine.
Richie Partington
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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 wi
Wynne Kontos
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this for the Greenlight PLG Young Readers Bookclub (YRBC).

What a strange book! Polly Horvath's young adult novel (we shelve it as YA at the store, likely because of a few errant F words and light scenes of violence, I read it with middle grade kids too so never fear), won the National Book Award a few years back.
This is another novel that doesn't pander to children. When the narrator, 12-year-old Ratchet is shipped from Florida to Maine to live with her eccentric great a
Rick Stuckwisch
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's lots to enjoy about this book, but I'm not sure quite what to say about it. We've really come to love Polly Horvath's writing, and I've been impressed with the variety found across the spectrum of her many books. There's still all of the things that we most enjoy about her work here. Colorful well developed characters, a gentle but genuine humor accompanying a poignant thoughtfulness, and a compelling slice of life touching upon family, friends, loyalty, and love. But I have some reserva ...more
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is on my list in error.
I did not read this book.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
The realistic fiction novel “The Canning Season” by Polly Horvath, is unlike any other book you will read. When main character Ratchet gets told by her ill-natured mother that she will be spending her summer away from her apartment in Pensicola, staying with her aged relatives at their secluded house in the woods. Ratchet takes a bit to warm up to her relatives Penpen and Tilly, the inseparable twin ladies that live a life from the one Ratchet had been familiar to. But she begins to warm up to t ...more
Janessa Brown
Apr 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
What an amazing, madcap book! Peppen and Tilly are twins (in their 90s) who live in Maine in a house overlooking a cliff, located on a road (with one turnoff that goes to St Cyr orphanage) that goes through a woods populated by raspberries, blueberries, and bears -lots of bears. They have lived there by themselves since there father dies some 70 years earlier and they dismissed the servants to conserve their inheritance. To make money they decided to can blueberry syrup; they'd tried jam but the ...more
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Edward Von
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Julia Pineda
Apr 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-literature
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
Dec 10, 2015 added it
Shelves: ya-lit-13-25
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
Apr 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
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 b
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Amy Gwynn Morrison
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dancing on the Edge
  • From Charlie's Point of View
  • Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida
  • Touching Snow
  • The Legend of Buddy Bush
  • Miss Smithers (Alice MacLeod, #2)
  • Goblin Secrets (Zombay, #1)
  • Words By Heart
  • Sun & Spoon
  • Full Service
  • How to Get Suspended and Influence People
  • At the Sign of the Star
  • When Zachary Beaver Came to Town
  • Mistik Lake
  • What Do Fish Have to Do With Anything?
  • Autobiography of My Dead Brother
  • True Believer (Make Lemonade, #2)
  • A Day of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw
See similar books…
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, and the Young Adult Canadia ...more
“And, I often think, the truth isn't good or bad, it's just the truth.” 4 likes
“People can be hurt so badly that they choose to just stop in their tracks.” 3 likes
More quotes…