published 2014 by McSweeney’s/McMullens
Do you know Because of Winn-Dixie? (Have I told you about the time I told Kate DiCamillo I wrote because of Winn-Dixie and obviously meant because of Because of Winn-Dixie but she cackled and my heart soared?)
Anyway. There’s a thing called a Littmus Lozenge. It’s a candy that makes you taste your sorrow and your sad and your sweet, all at once. Maybe it’s the thought of a lozenge sounding like something medicinal, or maybe it’s cause this pharmacy gave me both comfort and the heebie-jeebies, but reading this book felt a little like tasting a Littmus Lozenge. Something unsettling hovers around this place, but it beckons me, too. And I’m not alone in that: those two myth-collectors/busters are at once intrigued and terrified.
It’s weird and charming and confusing and a head-scratcher all at once.
I think that’s exactly what makes it a successful story for kids. Everything doesn’t have to make sense. Offbeat is okay.
Because let’s face it: kid are weird and charming and confusing. They teeter in that fuzzy place between wonder and reality. This is a book that honors this and celebrates that. Is it suspicious, a lady going in and coming out in the same outfit? No. Not necessarily. But see: you are an adult. You are past your prime of delighting in the bizarre and making sense or screwballs out of it. When you read this, rest in it. Let it catapult you from being a grownup. It’s good for you. And then share it with a kid. They’ll get it. Physically, I love the compact trim size because it feels like a manual, like a notebook, like some peculiar pamphlet to some oddball prescription in the pharmacy. It’s like a secret. A hush. Then! The cover unfolds to show the depths of the Swinster Pharmacy. When you flip it over, there’s a map of the town. Don’t ask me why I didn’t show you that. Just trust me. (If you dare.)
P.S. – Another numbered book I loved recently is How to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers, by Mordecai Gerstein. A total must read if you love quirk and lists like me.
The publisher provided a review copy of 29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy, but thoughts and love are my own.