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Literature / The Trolls

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Written by Polly Horvath in 1999, The Trolls is a child's novel based in the present time with stories told by Aunt Sally dating back twenty or so years ago. The Trolls was a National Book Award finalist, and is a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor book.

The books starts out with Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, parents of Melissa, Amanda and Pee Wee, having planned a trip to Paris, but the babysitter cancels last minute due to a development of bubonic plague requiring them to resort to the only available person left: Aunt Sally. Once Aunt Sally arrives and the children’s parents leave they are treated to many of Aunt Sally’s stories revolving around her life in Vancouver with her eccentric family.


The Trolls Contains examples of:

  • An Aesop: While little ones crop up here and there in Aunt Sally's stories, perhaps the biggest message is also, interestingly, the stealthiest one: be nice to your siblings.
  • Author Appeal: Polly Horvath lives in Vancouver and milks it for all it's worth.
  • Black Magic: Subverted Trope. The Wiccan's only preform 'friendly' spells.
  • Black Comedy: The story about Sally, John, and Edward accompanying Mad Maud hunting. Maud begins to act increasingly creepy and strange, telling terrifying stories about people getting killed by cougars. She then starts shooting small woodland creatures, apparently thinking they're cougars, and finally shoots the postman. And seems genuinely unaware that she's the reason he's bleeding. Fortunately he's more shaken than injured.
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  • Canada, Eh?: Aunt Sally both pokes fun at and provides true facts about Vancouver.
  • Cool Aunt: Aunt Sally is for the kids.
    • Great-Uncle Louis thinks he's a Cool Uncle, but only Robbie really thinks he is.
    • Hattie is viewed as something like this by Sally and her siblings, after she starts recovering from her past traumas and tells Great-Uncle Louis just what she thinks of him (namely that he's an old windbag and "less of a man and more of an excuse to hold up a mustache").
  • Cool Old Lady: Aunt Sally, John, and Edward think Mad Maud is this at first, impressed by her record of cougar hunting. They quickly change their minds when they realize just how crazy she is.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Mad Maud.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Aunt Sally's generation has become very dysfunctional after she and her siblings ditch Robbie on the beach with 'the trolls'.
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  • Eccentric Mentor: Aunt Sally, under the guise of telling the kids interesting stories, is definitely still teaching the children a thing or two.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: The residence of Aunt Sally's hometown in Vancouver.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Fat-Little-Mean-Girl is in fact a fat, little, mean girl.
  • Formally Named Pet: Mrs. Gunderson.
    • And the new Mrs. Gunderson.
  • Large Ham: Definitely Great-Uncle Louis, who came for two weeks and stayed for six years.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Did the potion the Wiccans gave Aunt Sally and her sibling really work, or did Fat-Little-Mean-Girl just react to drinking something... weird.
    • Were there really Trolls that lived out in the caves on the beach?
  • Mama Bear: In one of the stories Mad Maud told, a mother is killed saving her child from a cougar.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Fat-little-Mean-Girl.
    • Subverted at the end, when the kids learn that she married their uncle John, and reveal that she was their "Aunt Mariah".
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Sally and her siblings are shocked when their frugal, sensible mother spends all their money on pinball.
  • Overused Running Gag: Great-Uncle Louis, who came for two weeks and stayed for six years.
  • Papa Wolf: Aunt Sally tells the kids how their grandfather was one of the quietest, nicest guys you could ever meet. When he learns that a clam bit the end of one of his kid's fingers off though, he goes after it with a shot gun.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Aunt Sally to her brother (and the kids' dad) Robbie.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Great-Uncle Louis, who came for two weeks and stayed for six years.