Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Review: Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr (2015)

Norwegian nine-year-olds Trille and Lena live next door to each other in a small fishing village. Their idyllic lives consist mainly of eating Auntie Granny's waffles, and inventing opportunities for adventures, many of which end in unexpected, but funny, catastrophes. Though Trille is certain that Lena is his best friend, he is constantly preoccupied with whether the feeling is mutual, and he is always seeking confirmation from Lena that she cares about him, too.

Due to its setting, and the fact that it is a translation, this book has a very different feel from most other recently published middle grade fiction. The writing style feels very fresh, and the details of daily Norwegian life - including the wearing of wooden shoes! - are completely fascinating. The involvement of Trille and Lena's families in their everyday activities gives the story a gentle warmth, which proves very comforting when sad events sometimes occur, and their various hi-jinks, such as pretending they live during World War II and burying radios, are clever, memorable, and entertaining.  The story is the perfect mix of fun and creative adventures and cerebral, introspective reflection.

This book is reminiscent of several other titles, new and old. The boy/girl friendship, and the characters' shared imaginary play easily bring to mind Bridge to Terabithia. Because of the similarities, I kept expecting something terrible to happen, but rest assured, Adventures with Waffles is not a tragedy; it just has a similar approach to portraying an important friendship. The Good Master by Kate Seredy (my review for which will appear on an Old School Sunday in December) is another excellent read-alike, as it is also a family-oriented adventure story set in Europe. I would also suggest this book to readers who have enjoyed last year's Quinny and Hopper, which stars another unlikely, but somehow compatible, pair of boy/girl friends.

Adventures with Waffles is a perfect novel for elementary students in grades 3 to 5, and it will appeal equally to boys and girls as a read-aloud or for independent reading. Highly recommended.


  1. You are spot on with the age recommendations. I don't think this would do well in middle school, but I would have loved it in about 3rd grade.

  2. Love the title of this unique MG story. Thanks for featuring it today. I've added it to my list of books to read.

  3. The title is terrific and I would probably pick it up for that reason. Thanks for the review.

  4. I hadn't heard of this book so thanks for the heads-up. If it's similar to Bridge to Terabithia, minus the tragedy, I'm sure it will appeal to younger MG readers.

  5. I want to read this one! It sounds great and I haven't read any other books about Norway that have been translated- so it will be a unique book for me. Thanks for sharing! :)