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Trolls (Little Golden Books)

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I don’t think Horvath’s opinion on either Christianity or Wicca can be inferred from these incidents, but your mileage may vary. Aunt Sally talks to the kids as people and not kids. Her stories are entertaining but with a message about families and how the members relate and the importance of families. Some seem so full of exaggeration to be hard to believe and some so very down to earth. When Aunt Sally arrives she is a surprise to the kids. Tall, wearing very high heels with chunky soles and laces that wound up her legs. She had a lot of yellow hair that was piled high on the top of her head, sparkly eyes and long dangle earrings. This book is great because it is enjoyable on 2 levels...child and adult. It is a book of great childhood stories....and a meditation on the kinds of acts that change everything instantly incidents that can change relationships for a lifetime. But it's also about hope and healing.

Sex: There’s a hint that the mother of a neighborhood kid, whom Sally cruelly dubs “Fat Little Mean Girl” had a scandalous past, at least by small-town 1960s-70s standards. Likewise, one wonders how exactly FLMG/Marianne herself got Edward Anderson to marry her, the event which led to both of them dying young. Like the activities of the trolls, this is left almost completely blank, and what the reader comes up with to fill it in depends entirely on the worldly knowledge of the reader. I read this with my 8-year-old son and found it more thought-provoking than the "grown-up" novel I was reading at the time. This book centers on Aunt Sally, a sophisticated kind of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, who comes to stay with her 2 nieces and nephew when their parents vacation in France. Every chapter is another fanciful story told by Aunt Sally, involving her family in Canada growing up. The story includes the children's father (the youngest sibling of Aunt Sally in the story). There is a subtle undercurrent of family brokenness....why did Dad never talk about Aunt Sally? Why was Dad hesitant to have Aunt Sally come stay with the children while they were gone? Uncle Lewis told Aunt Sally's family that the reverend had gone through six wives. When he was finished with one, he would take her to the beach and leave her for the trolls. "That," said Aunt Sally, "is what happened to all six wives." Uncle Lewis also told about the neighbor's dog, which fell off the front porch. She was also taken to the beach and left for the trolls. Melissa (age ten), Amanda (age eight), and Frank (age six)—called Pee Wee by his sisters—know very little about their father’s large, eccentric, Canadian family. They’re familiar enough with their Aunt Lyla, and they know that Uncle Edward drowned at sea on his honeymoon years ago, but that’s about it. They’ve never even seen a picture of their Aunt Sally; the only proof of her existence till now has been the card, featuring a moose with tree lights strung in his antlers, that she sends them every Christmas. Here's a sample insight, "Now that it's too late, I wish I had asked Grandma Evelyn what the deep dark secret was.... So let that be a lesson to you, ask your parents all these questions before it's too late...." I certainly wish I had asked my parents more questions.

I remember how that first sentence hooked me, carpooling with a friend in second grade. That family always travelled with audio books. I don’t remember the name of the narrator but she was outstanding, with this very clean, sharp line delivery and perfect diction that sealed each line in your memory. It’s been in my head ever since. Sally and her brothers buy a product from a friend’s mom, who’s a Wiccan, hoping to cast a spell to make FLMG/Marianne stop bullying their sister. They sprinkle it on her school lunch, but all it accomplishes is making her barf all over herself. Along with Amanda, Melissa and Pee Wee, I loved Aunt Sally's storytelling, building a tree house, and teaching the children how to eat meatloaf by adding surprises. The children continued to wonder why their dad did not want her around. As you might have noticed, some of the humor in this book is not politically correct. I first read this book in second grade and was never tempted to call anyone “Fat Little Mean Girl” or anything close to that after reading it. But if your young reader is the type to repeat whatever they hear, take note.

Aunt Sally’s stories are hilariously, heartbreakingly funny—heartbreaking because you wish your own childhood had been like that, outrageous and funny and full of larger-than-life characters and adventures. I would classify this book as upper middle-grade, even though it’s short, due to the advanced vocabulary/sentence structure and the subject matter. If your kid can handle Inkheart they can definitely handle this. And it’s witty, poignant, and surprising enough that teens and adults reading by themselves can still be caught up by it. I won't give away too much from here on out, but there are some spoilers. I would say the following observations may help you enjoy the book a bit better.The week before Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were to leave Tenderly, Ohio, for the somewhat more bustling metropolis of Paris, their babysitter…came down with a minor case of bubonic plague and called tearfully to say she didn’t want to spread the buboes around. The ending ties the present-day frame story to the main one in the past. You thought you were reading an episodic chronicle of family life, and all along it was building to a retelling of Joseph of the varicolored coat and the brothers who left him for dead. Aunt Sally came to stay with Melissa, Amanda and Pee Wee while their parents went to Paris. From the beginning, I wondered why she was the last resort, and Dad did not want to call his sister. Three kids leave their spoiled little brother for the trolls on Halloween night. The parents realize that the child is missing, and eventually a search party finds him. He never speaks of what happened to him that night, but he’s never able to bond with those siblings again either. Aunt Sally doesn’t do things the usual way. She tells them stories—stories about their family that they’ve never heard before, stories so outrageous that it’s hard to believe that they’re true. She makes them WANT to eat green beans. In short, Aunt Sally is wonderful.

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