“Polly Horvath has a lively, daring imagination that expresses itself in children’s novels that balance the lyrical with the mordant, the poignant with the darkly absurd. Her earliest works tend towards the light and comic; her middle works towards the black-humoured, gothic and brave; her most recent are softer and tinged with wonder. In truth, though, all her novels have all these qualities in different measure, and in all she confronts the inexplicable vagaries of human nature with an inimitable, stylish blend of satire, wit and compassion.
In her mode of representing consolation, redemption, acceptance and loss, which she does in most of her novels, Horvath is a rare risk- taker in the realm of children’s literature. Her stories involve bizarre, outrageous incidents, Dickensian eccentric characters and unlikely plot lines, and they conclude without softening the asymmetry that is true to human emotion and family relationships. This in itself is an achievement in the world of children’s literature, which tends to value smooth resolutions and a simple sense of ‘justice.’ But Horvath’s work is also exceptional in its lucid, wise perceptions about human nature and culture, and especially in its poetic, always unpredictable language — a language which reflects with utter clarity a child’s insight.”
— 2010 Vicky Metcalf Award Jury (Deirdre Baker, Julie Johnston, Judith Saltman)