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In the 1960s, my grammar school (grades 1-8) encouraged us to buy cheap kids books; they had lists and we checked off what we wanted and paid for them. They were cheap; these were not new releases, and they were paperbacks (a bit taller and wider, and thinner, than standard paperbacks). Not a lot of pictures as I recall.

The one I want to i.d. is about a young boy in a small (maybe rural) town. There is nothing supernatural going on, certainly no violence, it's just him and some amusing local characters. The only part I remember is a container, or maybe it's invisible dust, that is supposed to improve everything. The joke is that the container is empty - or the 'dust' is nonexistent - so people just think it works. In the end someone adds water, and says it was the best, wettest water ever.

I'm pretty sure there were multiple stories in the book, and other books with the same boy and characters. I'd like to i.d. this so I can buy it for my grand-nephews.

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You're thinking of Homer Price by Robert McCloskey.

Specifically, the story "Ever-so-much-more-so", in which a traveling salesman sells the people a can of oderless, invisible dust that makes everything ever so much more so like itself. Homer does indeed add water to the can.

The other stories involve giant ragweed that someone grows from some mysterious seeds, and a jukebox that plays a song that nobody can stop dancing to or get out of their heads unless a specific other song is sung.

I stole this book from my grandparents' basement about ten years or so ago, so I recognized the story :)

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    My 4th grade teacher read us those books (1970.) There was some gender-bender confusion when she read the story about Miss Terwilliger and her two suitors. We were all hearing "Mister Williger". Why was he wearing a dress and why did the two gentlemen want to marry him...? – B. Goddard Dec 21 '20 at 9:34
  • I remember both that book and Blueberries for Sal. – Acccumulation Dec 22 '20 at 4:10
  • That's it! Thanks @Mithical – Daniel Dec 22 '20 at 14:46
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    @Daniel Don't forget to accept this answer (checkmark on the left) to mark it as correct :-) – Rand al'Thor Dec 22 '20 at 15:47
  • Done, thanks for the reminder. – Daniel Dec 25 '20 at 14:18

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