by Scott Corbett
This is the first in a lively little series of books aimed at (I would say) 4th-5th grade. In this book, we meet Kerby and his dog, Waldo. Kerby and Waldo, in turn, meet a mysterious old lady in the park, Mrs. Graymalkin. Kerby helps Mrs. Graymalkin out, and she tells him that if he comes back the next day, she will give him a present–something that used to belong to her son when he was a little boy. The gift turns out to be a chemistry set–“Feats o’ Magic!”
Now, obviously, we don’t want children conversing with strangers in the park anymore, much less accepting presents from them, but, nonetheless, I have found these books to be hilarious. Each story involves the use of a different beaker from the chemistry set, and adventures ensue. Kerby and his best friend, Fenton, are torn about whether or not the chemistry set really is magic, and whether or not Mrs. Graymalkin is a–“well, you know, something she couldn’t be, not in real life”–(they never actually say “witch”). Fenton is convinced that she actually a very intelligent scientist, but Kerby isn’t so sure.
In The Lemonade Trick, Kerby discovers that mixing one of the beakers with lemonade makes an irresistible drink–and drinking it makes you feel “good”–after drinking it, Kerby spends the rest of the day cleaning out the basement and the garage, much to his parents’ surprise and concern! It is a funny and sweet book, with a nice ending.
This is the same author who wrote the Inspector Tearle books. These are illustrated by Paul Galdone, whose line drawings grace many of my old books. It’s a fun and light-hearted read, an easy 4/5.