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  • One Year in Coal Harbor
  • Written by Polly Horvath
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  • Written by Polly Horvath
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On Sale: September 11, 2012
Pages: 224 | ISBN: 978-0-375-98536-2
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Readers rejoice—Primrose Squarp is back! The wise and curious heroine of the Newbery Honor Book Everything on a Waffle is facing another adventure-filled year in Coal Harbor.

Even though her parents, once lost at sea, are home, there’s a whole slew of problems and mysteries to keep Primrose—and eager fans—busy. There’s Uncle Jack and Kate Bowzer, who may (or may not) be in love. There’s Ked, a foster child who becomes Primrose’s friend. And there’s the new development on the outskirts of town that threatens the Coal Harbor Primrose knows and treasures.

From National Book Award–winning author Polly Horvath comes a masterful sequel to a beloved novel, sure to please old fans and gain new ones.
 
A perfect charmer…. Hilarious and touching.” —The Boston Globe
 
“Nobody does middle grade like Horvath.” —The Horn Book Magazine


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

What Happened to Quincehead

I was sitting with Bert and Evie. Evie had their cockapoo, Quincehead, on her lap and was staring into space. Bert was absently patting Quincehead on the head and rhythmically stroking his back while he told me what had happened.

“This morning when we woke up Quincehead’s stomach was huge. Bloated.”

“Too big,” said Evie.

“Not normal big,” said Bert.

“Because sometimes when they eat too much, it gets big,” said Evie.

“You can tell easier with little dogs like Quincehead.”

“It shows more.”

“The big dogs don’t show so much.”

“Not that we ever had a big dog.”

“ ’Cause we haven’t.”

“I prefer a dog that can sit in my lap.”

“We always get Evie lapdogs.”

“So,” they said together as if this were a logical pausing place in their narrative.

I waited patiently. They were looking out the window at the storm with unseeing eyes. The rain poured down and the wind howled. It was probably the last real winter blow.

The storm had started that morning. We had been able to hear the surf even in our classes at school, pounding the shore, flinging spray.

I had been sitting in class thinking that when the earth shakes like this, what you need is some solid ground beneath your feet, such as the bedrock of multiplication, where if you multiply correctly, you always get the same sum. But one look outside tells you how it is all just an invention in the end. What do we really know? Everything we know is just something someone made up. I like to cook, and you would think one of cooking’s reassuring aspects would be that if you make the same recipe the same way, it always comes out the same. This would be a nice antidote to random events if what you always wanted was a peach melba. But anyone who cooks a lot can tell you that it is hogwash. You can make the same recipe the same way a dozen times and each time it comes out differently. There are whole days when everything you cook comes out terribly and others when you can do no wrong. So many factors you will never be aware of are involved. Anyone who thinks they’ve got it all scoped out is in for a few surprises.

I’d nudged Eleanor, who sits next to me, and continued this thought out loud. “So if you’re going to make something up, you might as well make sure it is something good. Just like if you don’t know what is going to happen and have to assume, you might as well assume something good.”

She’d looked at me blankly. She hates it when I nudge and whisper during class, even though our teacher, Miss Connon, is extremely tolerant. Miss Connon doesn’t mind the odd communication while she’s talking, and she reads us essays by people like Walt Whitman and Mary Oliver because she credits us all with at least as much intelligence as we have. I could see Eleanor turning to look out the window and her brow furrowing again as she thought about what I’d said. I know mine is just one way of seeing things. That this was what I saw in the storm. I’d been hoping, as always, for a meeting of the minds but she just whispered, “Oh, great, indoor gym again.”

I’d turned back to watch the ocean. It looked like the sea was flinging bedsheets over a bed that refused to stay made. It could not make the sheets lie flat and neat and tidy. Waves bunched up and wrinkled and lifted high into the air to be flung across their sea beds once more. Order and disorder, order and disorder, I’d thought, staring out the window until Miss Connon called on me. That snapped me to, and looking down at my textbook to ­answer her question, I’d realized that the last time I had looked at my book we were still on math but it turned out they had moved on to Canadian history and the settling of the plains. Miss Connon turned tactfully to someone else while I switched books and caught up. We were now apparently talking about the Doukhobors, who walked naked across Saskatchewan. “We all live in uncertainty, and people will do amazing things in their need to get a grip, even, it would seem, naked protest parades,” said Miss Connon.

I’d drifted back to the window and wondered if my father, who is a fisherman, had docked his boat yet or had come in early before the storm started. I was a little concerned because the previous year he and my mother had been lost at sea during a bad winter storm. So I’d been relieved when after school I met up with my father, still dressed in his fishing gear and carrying a salmon home for us. I had waved, called out I was going to Bert and Evie’s and trotted on. I don’t tell him that I still worry every time his fishing boat goes out. I don’t want him to worry that I worry. After all, what can he do? This is how he makes a living.

Bert and Evie had been my foster parents for a short time when my parents were lost at sea. By the time my parents returned, Bert and Evie and I were like a small family unit, so it was very unsettling for them to find me leaving for another family, even if that family was my own. The previous night they had called to say I should drop by after school. They might have some good news. But now, here I was, and instead they told me about Quincehead.

Polly Horvath

About Polly Horvath

Polly Horvath - One Year in Coal Harbor
I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. My father, John Horvath, was a C.I.A. agent until he was in his forties and married my mother, Betty Ferguson. After that he became a high school biology teacher. My mother wrote picture books, so I remember the excitement around the house about the New York Times special children’s book sections, Horn Book reviews, who was getting the Newbery and Caldecott that year. I also learned how to submit a manuscript properly. I taught myself to type when I was in the fifth grade so that I could send my manuscripts out looking professional. Today’s children will think this is no big deal because they all learn to type the second they come out of the womb so they can use computers, but when I was growing up, there were no computers and typing was more of a frill and not something you usually picked up in grade school.

When I was in high school the last two years, my German teacher, Mr. Wooden, gave me a passkey to the building and set up a little room in the library, which was to be my office. He suggested I take my courses as independent study and arranged for a coffee pot and typewriter for me. Then he said, “So you want to write, write.” And I did. I had a wonderful English teacher, Mr. Smith, who despite being overworked, read masses of things I wrote and commented. I sent out manuscripts. I had an agent. Despite all of this, it wasn’t until I was 29 that I had a book published.

While waiting to get published, I became a ballet teacher, went to school in Toronto, moved to New York, taught dance in Montreal, and married. I was pregnant with our first daughter when my editor at the time, Reisa Arnold, at FSG called to say they were publishing my book. We had been rewriting it together for seven years. I don’t think I would have that kind of patience now. She probably wouldn’t either. I had sent out that manuscript for years. I had a very run down apartment in Montreal before I was married and one wall in the kitchen looked terrible, it was covered in peeling paint and I couldn’t afford to repaint it, so I plastered the wall with my rejection slips. Every time one came in I thought, oh great, that will cover this corner perfectly.

After I had our second daughter, my husband, Arnie Keller, became the director of the professional writing program at the University of Victoria and so we moved to British Columbia. Suddenly instead of a white picket fence Midwest town or big cities, I was living on an island in a small, rural community replete with bears and cougars, whales and eagles. This gave me a whole different frame of reference and inspired a different sort of storytelling. Here I wrote The Trolls, The Canning Season, Everything on a Waffle, books that won awards and changed the course of my writing career so that I could afford to write full-time. We acquired a dog and a horse. I began to travel, to speak to schoolchildren in Miami, Washington, D.C., New York, Arizona, Germany, Moosejaw, all kinds of places. I wrote other books. My daughters grew up. I wrote My One Hundred Adventures. I am working on a new book and a few days ago I had an idea for one after that. . . .
Praise

Praise

A Boston Globe Best Children's Book of 2012

School Library Journal Best of Children's Books 2012

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, August 20, 2012:
“…Horvath skillfully balances the story’s light and dark moments, leaving readers with an ending both satisfying and honest.”

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2012:
“…the author delivers a gothic tragicomedy that is both a worthy sequel and as able as Primrose to stand on its own.”

Starred Review, School Library Jounral, August 1, 2012:
“Excellent fun surrounds nuggets of wisdom, making for a great read or read-aloud to be enjoyed on multiple levels”

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