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Marilyn Helmer. Illustrated by San Murata.
Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press, 1992.
32pp., galley, $7.95.
ISBN 19-5408756. CIP.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8

Reviewed by Kay Kerman.

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

Benno, a young boy, is off to the fair with his father. Upon arriving at the gate, Benno's father presents his son with one dollar. "Remember now, one dollar will not go far, so spend it wisely."

There is so much for Benno to choose from - the midway, tasty treats, games of chance, glittery souvenirs, pony rides and much more - that Benno decides to walk around and see everything before he chooses how to spend his cherished dollar. Then Benno has an idea that will allow him to do all the things he wishes. He runs to the vendor stalls and buys a wide-brimmed felt hat. "This is a wonderful hat. It's not just attractive, it's useful too," the vendor tells him.

Benno is very aware of how useful it could be. In exchange for some rides he offers the use of his hat to a ticket-taker who was seeking shade. In exchange for some treats he offers the use of his hat to a woman selling treats who was waving her arms frantically to keep the flies, wasps and bees from buzzing over the food. In exchange for a ride he offers his hat as a water bucket to feed the thirsty ponies to a man selling pony rides.

The day passes quickly and Benno goes to meet his father at the gate. His father is surprised to see that his son has bought a hat. As they walk home and Benno tells of his adventures at the fair, it begins to rain. "I will help keep you dry, if you will give me a piggyback," says Benno to his father. Benno's father picks him up and Benno reaches up and puts the hat on his father's head to protect him from the rain. "You see, Father, this is a wonderful hat. It's not just attractive, it's useful too."

This book is a fine example of how children can be creative problem solvers. The more exposure to and examples they have of children as problem solvers, the more they will feel able to think laterally and be problem solvers themselves.

The design, shape and colour of the illustrations are very suitable in a story of this nature. They are bright and in keeping with the excitement of the subject matter. The people drawn in this text have a very mulhcultural look. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what the nationality of Benno and his father is. This is a nice element in this story. This book could easily be integrated into a theme on money, or as a lesson on problem solving.

I highly recommend the purchase of this book for all libraries. The Boy, the Dollar and the Wonderful Hatshows children as creative thinkers and successful problem solvers.

Kay Kerman teaches a combined Kindergarten and grade 1 class at Chelsea Elementary School in Chelsea, Québec.
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