• Happy birthday Alan Arkin (Tony’s Hard Work Day), Linda Sue Park (A Single Shard), and Petra Mathers (Button Up! ).
  • It’s the birth date of Jaap ter Haar (1922–1998), Boris.
  • According to legend, Venice, Italy was born at noon on this day in 421. Read This is Venice by M. Sasek, Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer, and The Merchant of Venice, a graphic novel based on the Shakespeare play, by Gareth Hinds.
  • In 1957, U.S. Customs seizes all copies of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" on obscenity grounds. Read The Mysterious Howling: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1 by Maryrose Wood, illustrated by Jon Klassen, and Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury.

Today marks International Waffle Day, a holiday that originated in Sweden. Waffles have a long, glorious history. In Colonial times President Thomas Jefferson brought a long-handled waffle iron from France to the U.S. In 1869 Cornelius Swarthout, a man with a great Dutch name, patented the first U.S. waffle iron. Believe it or not, there is actually a controversy in America about when we should celebrate Waffle Day. Some claim that August 24 would be appropriate, because of the patent. But for the purposes of the Almanac, I’ve chosen the International Holiday—and you can celebrate in August as well if you are so inclined.

I experienced no controversy in selecting the book of the day, Polly Horvath’s quirky and funny Everything on a Waffle, a Newbery Honor Book. Living in Coal Harbour, British Columbia, Primrose Squarp, an eleven-year-old with hair the color of “carrots in an apricot glaze,” loses both parents when a typhoon blows them out to sea. She always believes them to be simply lost; her neighbors and those at school insist they must be dead and that Primrose must live in reality. But reality is not Primrose’s strong suit—she excels in imagination and whimsy. Eventually, her bachelor uncle Jack moves to Coal Harbour to care for her. He also seems attracted to the possible real estate development of this now sleepy little spot. Even under his care Primrose manages to get into a lot of scrapes in chapters entitled “I Lose a Toe” and “I Lose Another Digit.” For a short time she gets placed with a foster family, but she continues to believe in a happy ending to her plight—when her parents return.

In this Garrison Keillor–like take on small-town life, not only do waffles appear in the title, they also play a major role in the book. Primrose’s favorite café, The Girl on the Red Swing run by the sympathetic Mrs. Bowser, serves everything on a waffle. Lasagna, steak, and fish and chips all come on a waffle. Mrs. Bowser thinks it gives the restaurant class and is something a little extra for the guests. A bit of a foodie, Primrose provides a recipe at the end of each chapter, showing how to make one of the dishes mentioned in the text. She may not become the next Julia Child (she sets a guinea pig on fire in the kitchen) but she has heart and wit and wins readers over. In the end, Primrose’s optimism and dreaming prove to be more realistic than the despair of those around her. Everything on a Waffle makes a great book to read aloud for fourth through sixth graders—although some teachers admit that they must stop reading for a moment because they are laughing so hard.

So happy International Waffle Day. I have already been celebrating, and I hope you do to. And thank you Polly Horvath for your witty and clever book—it is just as satisfying as a stack of waffles, no matter what gets put on them.

Here’s a passage from Everything on a Waffle:

It turned out that while I had been in the hospital Uncle Jack had ended up having dinner with Miss Honeycut, eating pear soup (recipe to follow). He said it was many things but a meal it wasn’t. He had tried to interest her in any of several terrific investment opportunities that Coal Harbour now offered. She had tried to convince him that an eligible bachelor had many opportunities himself, if he was unencumbered by obligations. Uncle Jack told her that I was going to live with him no matter what. He reported this to me quite matter-of-factly when I pressed him for details. I knew he had just said this to let her down gently but it seemed to me it only gave her a greater motivation to get rid of me.



Originally posted March 25, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Family, Food, Humor
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Everything on a Waffle


  1. Jen says:

    I love Everything on a Waffle! It’s such a fun book. We love waffles in our house. I was all set to make toast for breakfast today because 3/25 is Kate DiCamillo’s birthday and her character, Mercy Watson, love buttered toast! Now we may have to have toast with waffles!

  2. Sydnee says:

    I love this book! It’s such a positive read, even in tough situations Primrose is so charming (she reminded me of Pollyana meets Pipi). The whole story is full of fun characters and comforting food.

  3. Heather says:

    Thanks for recognizing a book with a Canadian setting! Polly Horvath has made a lot of Canadian students laugh through her fun-loving book, Everything on a Waffle. If you haven’t read The Trolls, it’s a great read aloud too! I think I’m in the mood for some waffles today too :)

  4. beth says:

    Howliday Inn by Howe is another good Howe book. I love Horvath books; they read like jazz to me.

  5. Carol says:

    I love this book! My daughter and I read it together this summer. We even several of the recipes–just a wonderful book.

  6. Momo says:

    I will add my affirmaiton joining all the comments about this book. I loved it too. I adore books about cooking but even more I loved the main character and her determination and belief her parents were not dead. I had no idea it was international waffle day! Years ago working in a small country school the school secretary used to bring in her ancient waffle iron and we all enjoyed freshly made waffles for morning tea. This is a treasured memory and they tasted so much better than the store bought kind. I will add this delicious book to my re-read list.

  7. Allison Cole says:

    This looks like a fun read! I’m going to put it on my summer list. I’m intrigued by the voice– very straightforward and dry. I’d never heard of this book and am glad to know about it!

  8. Margaret Mennone says:

    This is a great book! I love Polly Horvath and Primrose is a great character. The first book of hers that I read was ‘My One Hundred Adventures’. I fell in love with that one, and knew I had to read more. She’s written a sequel to that one, and I hope she’ll write a third. Horvath’s books are funny and honest, even though the characters find themselves in some ridiculously unreal situations. I didn’t think her new one, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Detectives Extraordinaire’ was as good, but it had a different writing style since it is from the perspective of the animals. Great choice for this day!

  9. Eliza says:

    I love Polly Horvath. Everything on a Waffle was my gateway introduction to her books. I didn’t expect the humor to be so black and dry. I loved it and so have all the kids to whom I’ve given this book. Though most readers probably know, it’s probably worth mentioning that if you want to follow Polly on her further adventures, One Year in Coal Harbor, the sequel, came out last year.

    My favorite Horvath novel is The Canning Season. It’s a great meditation on found families and aging. The humor here is even darker, if possible, and funnier. Eccentric aunts. Bears. So much to love in this book.

    Speaking of food in novels, I’m creating a mix and match with character’s names and his/her/its favorite food.
    (e.g., Paddington Bear & Marmalade; Winnie-the-Pooh & Honey; Harriet the Spy & tomato sandwiches; Francis & bread & jam). Thanks to Jen, I now have Mercy Watson & buttered toast.

  10. Anita says:

    Eliza: Thanks for your comment. What a great list — characters and their foods. You could even make a cookbook from it. In the Almanac sidebar, I often include food days — you might find some other ideas there. Edmund’s love of Turkish Delight in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe comes to mind. Possibly other readers might want to help in the quest.

  11. Eliza says:

    Thanks, Anita. I’ve added Edmund to my list! I can’t believe I forgot about him. See, that’s why the collective mind of the internet is so great. I’m picking up a copy of your Almanac today.

    If anyone has other suggestions, they’ll be greatly appreciated.

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