Sorry not to have been on this thread for a while--we've lately mostly been reading either in French or classics that hardly need reviewing by me!

We read something very fun last week, though (all together first, and then each of Harpo and Groucho read it on their own): Polly Horvath's "The Pepins and their Problems" (ill. by Marylin Hafner, publ. Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2004, 180 pp.). Middle-schoolish reading level?? Dunno.

Mr. and Mrs. Pepin have two children (Petunia and Irving), a dog (Roy), a cat (Miranda), a cow (Nelly), and a very fine neighbour (Mr. Bradshaw). They also have a lot of problems (getting stuck on the roof, running out of cheese, losing their silverware, etc.), because they are not very practical, and the author invites readers to send her solutions (psychically!) to pass on to her characters, to see if they can get unstuck from whatever ridiculous situation they have found themselves in.

It's tremendously funny; Horvath has managed a lovely balancing act of making you care about characters who are just plain silly. The writing is deliciously wry, and it is amusing to have the constant interplay with the author, as she inserts herself repeatedly into the action. She also calls attention several times to the book as physical object and to the process of writing the book--it's Laurence Sterne for the younger set.

The lads were moved to write a fan letter when we finished (no small tribute from my one who doesn't love writing!). We've read another of her books (Everything on a Waffle), and have three more out from the library right now, so we're happily onto a new good thing here.