The Fantastic 5&10 Cent Store


The Fantastic 5&10 Cent Store: A Rebus Adventure by J. Patrick Lewis and Valorie Fisher

Something new has appeared at the end of town.  Benny Penny sets off to find out what it is and discovers a five and dime store that is filled with unusual items.  The only thing missing at the store are customers and Benny Penny has an idea of how to bring them in!  Pure silliness, this book celebrates the hodgepodge of an old-fashioned dime store with its amazing mishmash of offerings. Told in rebus format, this book is not designed for emerging readers because the rebus clues are rather difficult.  Instead hand this one to reluctant readers who are a bit older and will enjoy deciphering the story. 

Lewis has written a poem filled with the strange and zany.  It is perfect fodder for a rebus because it offers so much to draw from for the clues.  Fisher’s illustrations and her rebus creations are very colorful and creative.  They have a combination of vintage prints, physical items and modern illustrations.  The mix is refreshing and fun, just like the rest of the book.

The puzzles in the rebus can be difficult to decipher, but that just makes it all the more rewarding and fun to try.  Readers can also use context in the sentences to help with figuring things out. 

An unusual and adept book that will have readers puzzling things out with smiles on their faces.  Appropriate for ages 5-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House.

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In Front of My House: A Circular Journey of Imagination

In Front of My House by Marianne Dubuc

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened this book.  It’s not a normal picture book size, being rather square and short.  But it was the length that threw me most of all.  It’s much longer than most picture books, having the heft of a chapter book.  But oh how I enjoyed this squat little book.

The book starts out on a hill under a tree with a house.  In front of the house is a rosebush.  On the rosebush is a little bird.  Above the bird is a window.  Head through the window, and the into the room, open the book of fairy tales and your journey really begins.  This is a very engaging book with short sentences that bridge the page turn so that the next step of the story is hidden until you turn the page.  It is a very simple concept, but one that mirrors a child’s imagination so closely that it reaches beyond that simplicity and becomes something more.  One really never knows what is around that next page turn…

Dubuc keeps her sentences very basic, using only a single adjective at times and plenty of prepositional phrases.  Her illustrations have the same simple approach with plenty of white space that allows the object itself to really be highlighted.  The book design is exceptional.  The words curve, blast, stand vertical like a tree, hang upside down.  It is a dynamic book that is delightful to read. 

This is a book that will inspire circular story telling in children and will work to get creative juices flowing.  What other book has vampires, werewolves, a whale, a dragon, a bear, and a lost baby penguin?  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Kids Can Press.

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Guardian Old Masters Series


The Guardian has a new series of audio slideshows where “some of the most revered names in children’s illustrated books discuss their works.”  They are absolutely delightful.  There are two slideshows so far in the collection.  The first was with Eric Hill, celebrating Spot’s 30th birthday.  The second is with Raymond Briggs.

Both men speak of how they fell into illustrating children’s books and their subsequent careers.  I really enjoy the slideshow format with an audio interview accompanying it.  A marvelous way to spend some time with beloved characters and artists.

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