Describe your latest project.
My One Hundred Adventures was one of those books that was a joy to write. For a year I got to experience summer and some of my favorite things: a house by the sea, front porch living, poetry, potato chips, mystery, mystic happenings, love in its various incarnations, dinners made from the things that you gather from your garden and the things you gather from the sea, the sound of the ocean, berry season, and adventure.
If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
"[A] witty, wise and wonderful novel." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Unconventionality is Horvath's stock in trade, but here the high quirkiness quotient rests easily against Jane's inner story with its honest, childlike core." Booklist (starred review)
"Hilariously puckish." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Subtlety and slapstick is a challenging combination; Horvath pulls it off beautifully." The Horn Book (starred review)
If I could choose any story to live in, at least temporarily, it would be Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager. In fact, I did pretend to live in that book for years. It was one of my favorite games, and I probably played it a lot longer than was developmentally normal. I might have gone on longer still, but my children made me quit when I was 42.
Describe your most memorable teacher.
My most memorable teacher was my high school English teacher. A man named Dick Smith who encouraged us all to keep an open mind and who read every idiotic thing I wrote. He was wonderful.
What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
My favorite breakfast cereal is probably Maypo. I don't think you can find it any more. I'm not a huge cereal eater. It's not that I don't like it; it would be hard to find a food I don't like. It's more that I like other things for breakfast more. Right now I am eating cinnamon raisin English muffins every morning. Maypo was kind of like a maple-flavored cream of wheat. To be honest, I have no idea what it was and I don't think the people who made it did, either. And that's what makes America great.
What was your favorite story as a child?
My favorite story as a child was from this cheap little book of stories that we kept up at our summer house. Someone would read us a story from that book every night. Our favorite one, the one we wanted read over and over, was about a candy store that came alive at night. The chocolate almonds were snooty and there was a big fight among the candy one night. Our favorite line is during the fight: "'Shut up,' said the gumdrops rudely." That one slayed us. For a long time I searched fruitlessly to find that stupid cheap book of stories and couldn't find it. I also couldn't remember the name of the story. But I was answering questions for something like this and mentioned it, and a librarian in Seattle knew the story and photocopied it for me and sent it to me. I was delirious with joy.
What is your idea of bliss?
My idea of bliss is putting the family in the car and driving island back roads, stopping for donuts at some point. Exploring, getting out to look at strange old churches or strange old people or frogs.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be three things when I grew up: a ballerina, a writer and a nun. The nun was because I had seen The Sound of Music and I thought nuns had quite the life, running up and down hillsides in Austria singing at the tops of their lungs.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
The most interesting (and horrible) experience I've had with readers came from two little girls in the Midwest. I got a heart-wrenching letter one day from a little girl who said that her and her sister's favorite book was Everything on a Waffle. That they spent one summer reading it to each other over and over. They particularly liked the part where Primrose has a toe partly cut off. Then, at the end of the summer, they were playing on the boat hitch between their family's trailer and boat, and suddenly the hitch came undone and in jumping off, the girl's sister's toe was cut off. Right now she was at home, bandaged, and it was quite horrible, and every night the bandage had to be changed, which was a terrible ordeal. So during the bandage change each night, she would read her sister the part from Everything on a Waffle where Primrose has her toe cut off. I, personally, didn't think this sounded like a good way to distract her, but she said it was very comforting.
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In addition to the National Book Award and the Newbery Honor, Polly Horvath's titles have been chosen by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post as Best Books of the Year. She lives in Metchosin, British Columbia.