Sunday, February 22, 2009
I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but this cover just looks inviting, doesn't it?
As soon as I picked up Ruby Holler it began to whisper softly to me, "Come inside, dear reader, and make yourself at home at my incredibly cozy, charming little cottage and enjoy some sizzling bacon and piping hot pancakes with fresh butter. Don't you want to frolic in the shade of my secluded yard, climb these ginormous maple trees and just escape life in general?" "Yes, yes I do!" I found myself yelling to no one in particular. "I adore pancakes and sizzling bacon and frolicking in shady yards! I must read you right now!" And so my journey to Ruby Holler began.
Florida and Dallas (a.k.a. The Trouble Twins) have lived at the Boxton Creek Home for Children since they arrived on the doorstep as babies. The ramshackle (meaning run-down) orphanage is run by Mr. and Mrs. Trepid, the nastiest, most horrendous excuse for childcare providers ever known.
They were middle-aged, cranky and tired, and growing stiff and cold as winter-bound trees. They believed in rules, and their rules were posted on doorways and in hallways and above each child's bed. There were general rules and kitchen rules, bathroom rules and stairway rules, basement rules and outside rules, upstairs rules and downstairs rules, clothing rules, washing rules, cleaning rules, rules upon rules upon rules.
To top it off, Florida and Dallas were confined to the absolute rear of the house, where they slept in two tiny cubicles huddles side by side, ate mush for every meal, and were constantly screamed at. Sounds like a great place to grow up, huh? (This would be a great time to go hug your mom and tell her "thanks" for not leaving you orphaned in Boxton Creek with putrid people like the Trepids. It's okay if she looks confused--just go with it.)
As with all orphan-themed novels, when things couldn't begin to get any worse, they start to look up, albeit slowly. By some twist of fate, the twins are invited by Sairy and Tiller, a sweet, older couple who live in Ruby Holler, to accompany them on their last great adventures. Ruby Holler turns out to be everything the cover suggests and more. The children swing from the great trees, play in the crystal clear stream, eat their fill of delicious homemade food, and constantly wonder when this crazy couple is going to show their true colors by locking them in a basement, calling them thieves, or making them sleep in a snake pit, as families in the past had done.
After many days spent working on the boat and preparing for the trips, the foursome part ways in a trial (meaning practice) run before the actual expeditions. Through many obstacles ("compass? what compass?") a near-death experience (boating without knowing how to swim), and having all of their gear stolen by thieving teenagers, the group comes to two conclusions:
1.) Florida and Dallas have seen their last days with the putrid Trepids and 2.) Maybe leaving the Holler wasn't such a good idea after all.
*Recipe to Read By: Florida, Dallas, Sairy, and Tiller's Mission Accomplished Cake
This cake should be eaten after any huge challenge that has been accomplished despite many obstacles. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, pulling an "A" on a social studies test even though you fell asleep halfway through, surviving a night in a haunted cemetary with a full moon, leaving the dentist a happy camper, successfully hiding your brussel sprouts under your shirt without your sister telling on you, etc.
Start with a big red bowl.
Dump in some chocolate syrup.
Drizzle in some honey.
Drop in a handful of pecans.
Add more chocolate syrup.
Toss in a handful of chopped red cherries.
Open a jar of peanuts and dump those in.
Go ahead and empty the rest of the jar of chocolate syrup into the bowl.
Find a bag of cookies, smash them up, and dump the whole bag in as well.
Pound the dough with a wooden spoon.
Eat raw. And whatever you do--DO NOT let your mother see you making (or eating) this!
This recipe comes straight out of pages 291-292 and has not yet been tested by my taste kitchen staff (this includes my husband and crazy Kendall, the lab). Please let me know how it turns out and what kind of cookies you use. I'm thinking left-over Girl Scout cookies would be exceptionally tasty...or Mint Milanos perhaps? Nutter Butters? Oreos???