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29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy
Contributor(s): Snicket, Lemony, Brown, Lisa (Illustrator)
ISBN: 1938073789     ISBN-13: 9781938073786
Publisher: McSweeneys Books
    OUR PRICE: $13.50  
Product Type: Hardcover
Published: February 2014
Annotation: A young boy and girl investigate the impenetrable mysteries of the strangely compelling Swinster Pharmacy.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Drugstores; Fiction.
Mystery and detective stories.
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Action & Adventure
Dewey: [E]
LCCN: bl2014006089
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 1-2, Age 6-7
Book type: Easy Fiction
Physical Information: 7.50" H x 7.50" W x 0.50" (0.58 lbs)
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 170272
Reading Level: 4.0   Interest Level: Middle Grades   Point Value: 0.5
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s):
Lemony Snicket frequently stays up late, worrying about some of his books, includingWhen Did You See Her Last? and The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, which was also illustrated by Lisa Brown.Lisa Brown has been known to stay up even later than Lemony Snicket, which is why she is associated with such books asVampire Boy’s Good Night, Picture The Dead, and other books that leave dark circles around her eyes.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Fall)
Siblings investigate the Swinster Pharmacy: is it a run-of-the-mill shop that sells "aspirin and toothpaste," as a police officer asserts? Or, is it something more sinister? Snicket nails the intensity of a child's curiosity, but the book (twenty-nine observations ranging from quirky to lyrical to matter-of-fact) ultimately--and perhaps intentionally--leaves readers in the dark. Brown's illustrations are just right: gloomy and eerie.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2013 November #4)

Every town has one: that tchotchke shop/storefront psychic/drugstore that raises questions like "How does that place stay in business?" Snicket and Brown (The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming) examine one such emporium of enigma, the Swinster Pharmacy, its very name almost "sinister." Two children are fascinated by the store and what it might sell, and their 29 notes and comments comprise the narrative. This isn't a book about solving a mystery—entering the pharmacy would, after all, basically put the matter to rest. Instead, Snicket and Brown let readers dwell in the gray, desolate weirdness of the downtown (a foldout map of the neighborhood is included). While the book successfully evokes a sense of unease about the store, as well as the way children create mysteries out of the quotidian, the observations are often opaque ("Nothing's perfect. The Swinster Pharmacy is not perfect. The glow of the moon on the car, there, is not perfect") or banal ("I was going to write a poem about the Swinster Pharmacy"), making the mystery one that belongs to these two children, not one readers can share in. Ages 7–up. (Feb.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2014 March)

Gr 4–8—Innovative in both its style and gloomy dénouement, this picture-book mystery unfolds as an episodic essay of 29 seemingly random observations. It employs both narrative and expository voices as it describes an old-timey downtown pharmacy with "Styrofoam heads wearing wigs" in the window and employees wearing long white coats.The Swinster Pharmacy remains unchanged in what is "usually a quiet town," and this timelessness presents a puzzle that two children investigate tirelessly as they are certain that there is something terribly wrong with this establishment. Careful observers will find clues in the illustrations that supply reasons for the seemingly gratuitous obsessiveness. The story is written in a droll, but authoritative voice reminiscent of pre-1960s journalese, and the art has a flat, understated style that is reminiscent of Marc Simont's work. The two friends are essentially reporters, and their reports read like poetic fragments: "15. The building is a perfect square./We measured it last night," "18. Something about the door is electric as opposed to acoustic./It closes like a hiss,/like the serpent in the Garden of Eden/or a slow, dead tire." This picture book is a wee bit odd in tone, it is true. Nevertheless, it could be used a springboard for readers to develop and solve the implicit whodunit story, or as an opportunity to analyze what constitutes solid evidence versus allusive facts.—Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City

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