The Hateful Plateful Trick



by Scott Corbett

Published 1971

Per usual, Kirby & Co. are finding ways to get into trouble, starting with a very rainy day.  Kirby and Fenton can’t play baseball, can’t hang out in their club house (it leaks), and can’t think of anything they want to do.  And to make matters worse, they have to babysit Kirby’s little cousin, Gay!  When an experiment with their magic (?) chemistry set goes wrong, all three end up smelling like their least-favorite meal, and only Mrs. Graymalkin can save the day.

I’ve really been enjoying these little books–only two left!  They have the happy innocence that so much of today’s children’s literature lacks.  4/5.

The Disappearing Dog Trick



by Scott Corbett

Published 1963

In this third (?) book of the ‘Trick’ series, Kerby, Fenton, and Waldo (the dog) are looking forward to a fun backyard camping trip.  The parents are all off for a quiet evening of bridge and the boys are left on their own.

Disaster strikes when Waldo gets out of the house before the boys can put his new license tag on.  Luckily, the boys possess a special–possibly even magic–chemistry set.  With the aid of the mysterious Mrs. Graymalkin, they set off on a whirlwind adventure to bring Waldo home.

These books are funny and easy reads.  Paul Galdone’s illustrations are perfect.  4/5.

The Lemonade Trick



by Scott Corbett

Published 1960

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.