The Fantastic 5 & 10¢ Store: A Rebus Adventure

J. Patrick Lewis, Author, Valorie Fisher, Illustrator
J. Patrick Lewis, illus. by Valorie Fisher, Random/Schwartz and Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-85878-9
Reviewed on: 08/30/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Library Binding - 978-0-375-95878-6
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Lewis (First Dog) and Fisher (When Ruby Tried to Grow Candy) use rebuses to introduce readers to a nearly extinct piece of Americana—the five-and-10-cent store—and the wonders held inside. Shopkeepers on Pumpkin Street are mystified when a new building appears; only bespectacled young Benny Penny (rendered as Ben plus a picture of a knee and a shiny copper coin) knows what kind of store it is. Laced with rebus images of numbers, letters, and assorted objects, Lewis’s sturdy verse describes the shenanigans taking place: “A toaster with flamingo wings/ Flew over, popping bread,/ A paintbrush dipped itself in green,/ Painting the ceiling red.” Fisher’s mixed-media panels combine photographic images of five-and-dime merchandise like steel wool and Vulcanol with the friendly figures of the proprietors, Mr. Nickel and Miss Dime. The rebuses appear opposite each image on yellowing lined paper, straight from a vintage school notebook, and for those having trouble guessing, the full text of the rhymes appears at the end of the book. Good, old-fashioned fun, with a surprise ending that reveals Benny’s talent for public relations. Ages 4–9. (Sept.)
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