Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The Fantastic 5&10 cent Store, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Valorie Fisher. Schwartz & Wade, Random House. 2010. $20.99 ages 5 and up
from the front flyleaf:
"What lurks inside that
store at the end of town?
Only Benny Penny is
adventurous enough to
I'm sorry that I cannot include a real quote from this witty and captivating book of poetry. I just can't get the rebuses down and that would spoil your fun. If you know J Patrick Lewis' work, you will not be surprised that he writes this zany adventure with characteristic skill and charm.
A new shop has the townspeople first wondering at the treasure it might hold! Benny Penny knows it's a 5 and 10 cent store, and he's first to venture inside its doors. Once inside, he is privy to the craziness that is at its heart. A paintbrush dips itself in green, then paints the ceiling red. Huh?? A cup and saucer have a race, and so do the salt and pepper. The condiments dance, and the decks of cards walk in marching order. Finally the teapot and the pot race, and Benny is the referee.
No matter the fun, there are no customers. Mr. Nickel and Mrs. Dime are willing to offer prizes, if only people would make it 'the' place to shop. Benny puts his thinking cap on, and comes up with an idea that just might work. He strings some brilliant stars above the store's entrance and adds the store's name to a marquee banner. Voila, paying customers!
Patrick Lewis did not write this book for little ones. It needs a more seasoned reader. But, I can guarantee that anyone who picks it up is not going to be content until they have solved each one of the rebuses. The illustrations that Valorie Fisher has created to help enhance the poetry are a delightful mix of the real, the vintage and the imagined. The endpapers are a hoot, giving readers a sense of the cost of items that might have been sold in the old nickel and dime stores, as well as the wide variety wares to be found there.
The puzzles can be tricky...context helps and so does the rhyme used. If you really can't decipher each one, the author has included a translation at the back of this entertaining book. Do your best before succumbing to getting help!