Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Primrose’s parents both disappear at sea in the middle of a vicious storm, she is forced into a new life which includes a new home, new friends, new conflicts and adventures, new insights, and new recipes. It really does take a village in this case to take care of 11-year old Primrose. Some of the townspeople think they know best, like the snobbish and socially awkward school counselor Miss Honeycut. While others truly are just what Primrose needs to keep her hope alive, like her impulsive Uncle Jack, and Kate Bowzer, the owner of the local restaurant where all the food is served on a waffle. But the true joy in this story is how Primrose and her hope is just what the town, and all of us, need to approach the world and all of its challenges with courage, wit, kindness, fun, and love.
This is the kind of book I would want to write, but the genius to do so hasn’t hit me yet. I am inspired by the unique and accurate way in which life and people are depicted. I love the vibrant and varied characters and how each of them reveals wisdom to Primrose and to us as readers through both their follies and their successes.
I also love the humor! Parents disappearing at sea and a child wading through the foster system certainly doesn’t seem like the setup for a comedy, but that just makes it all the more impressive when you find yourself smiling all the way through. It’s not a silly humor or irreverent either. It’s a look at the bad things that can come in life through the eyes of a girl who is open to the good in everyone and in everything. But she also calls things like she sees them with the innocence and directness of childhood. She’s wades through major change with youthful adaptability and so perfectly communicates what she learns without ever letting go of the hope and knowledge that anchors her. I loved the recipes that were included as well and how they reveal Primrose’s state of mind. And there is humor and wit found even in the recipes.
Everything on a Waffle makes it into my top 20 list of favorite children’s books for sure.
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Age Recommendation: 10 years and older, though if you had a mature reader 8 years old would probably love it too. Some of the wit and experience would be better understood at 10, however. And obviously despite it’s children’s book genre I would absolutely recommend it for adults as well.
Appropriateness: I found nothing offensive or questionable at all. There are some traumatic events for sure, but because of the approach to them I don’t think a child would be impacted negatively. Instead, I think children can learn about hope, attitude, and faith through Primrose’s example. They can also learn how to better understand the adults in their life as well.
This would be a great book club discussion book! Scroll down for a list of discussion questions.
Other Book Recommendations: If you like Everything on a Waffle then you should read A Little Princess and The Secret Garden both by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Frindle by Andrew Clements, Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.
“Sometimes you get tempted to make something wonderful even better but in doing so you lose what was so wonderful to begin with.”
“You can be sunk low or as a skunk and still have a joy in your heart. Joy lives like one of those spinning things—a gyroscope in your heart. It doesn’t seem to have any connection to circumstance, good or bad.”
“All my life I had wanted to travel but what I discovered that year was that the things that you find out become the places that you go and sometimes you find them out by being jettisoned off alone and other times it is the people who choose to stand by your side who give you the clues. But the important things that happen to you will happen to you even in the smallest places…”
“The only really interesting thing about someone that makes you want to explore them further is their heart.”
“There’s something about sports. You can be setting fire to cats and burying them in your backyard, but as long as you’re playing team sports, people think you’re okay.”
“I want someone who puts the whole ball of wax at risk. I want the kind of marriage where we would follow each other out into the stormy fatal sea or I’m not marrying at all.”
“You can’t replace one dog with another any more than you can replace one person with another, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t get more dogs and people in your life.”
- Primrose never doubts that her parents are alive. Did you agree with her throughout the story? Did your opinion change?
- Primrose keeps a positive attitude throughout the book even when not so positive things happen. How does she do it? Why does she do it? Do you think this is wisdom or just naivety?
- Which of the adult characters were your favorite? Why? What were their follies? How did they help Primrose?
- Miss Honeycut was certainly the least helpful adult to Primrose. How did you feel about her?
- Despite Miss Honeycut’s misguided intentions, Primrose seems to keep patience and understanding for her. How does she do this?
- Primrose says, “Miss Honeycut didn’t tell anecdotes because she was interesting; she told them because she wasn’t”. Have you ever known someone like that?
- Does seeing Miss Honeycut and the other adults in the story through Primrose’s eyes change your opinion about any of the people you have known in your life?
- Was Miss Perfidy “good” or “bad” for Primrose? Do you think they cared about each other?
- Do you think Uncle Jack and Kate Bowzer will ever become romantically involved? What evidence did you see to support your opinion?
- Have you ever felt changed by traveling to a new place? Have you ever found big changes in even the “smallest places?”
- Primrose seems to relate better to the adults in Coal Harbor than to the children her age. Can you relate to that? Is this healthy for her?