Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Qwikpick Papers: Journey to the Fountain of Poop by Tom Angleberger

Give kids books on poop, gas, or burps and they laugh hysterically. Most adults scratch their heads at this scatological humor. For me, it's interesting watching nonreaders become drawn to reading as students huddle around books belly-laughing over a character in his underpants. Some adults find these stories on vomit, poop, urination low-brow, but the reality is that they get kids excited about reading and talking with each other about books. And that is a good thing. I suppose that toilet humor regarding body functions is frowned upon culturally. No wonder kids like the novelty and rejection of this taboo. The Qwikpick Papers involves this fascination but also how sewage plants work, friendship, and best friends dealing with a crush on the same girl.

This book was first published in 2007 and rereleased. While Tom Angleberger worked as a reporter for a newspaper he stumbled across an article about some kids that had an adventure at the city's sewage plant. Taking that seed of an idea he came up with Lyle Hertzog, the protagonist who lives in Crickenberg, a small town with little action. Lyle lives in a trailer park as his parents work at the Qwikpick convenience store trying to make ends meet. They work long days and hours leaving Lyle with a lot of time on his hands. When Lyle hears at school that the city's sludge fountain is going to be replaced by a new sewage plant, he hatches a plan with his friends, Dave Raskin, and Marilla Anderson to sneak out and see it. Their poop fountain adventure has some unexpected results.

Angleberger's concise writing has a simple plot that makes this book easier to read than the Origami Yoda book series. The reader gets glimpses of his future hit series as origami papermaking has a major part in this book and Star Wars is a topic of conversation with Dave. Lyle and Dave have a crush on the unknowing Marilla. Things go sour when they compete to make the best origami paper object. Dave creates a complex Pegasus horse and gives it to the thrilled Marilla while Lyle bemoans the fact he'll never be able to top it to get her attention. While Dave and Lyle do not talk about their crush on Marilla they begin to compete against each other leading Lyle to do something really drastic at the sewage plant. He impresses Marilla, but it is gross.

The funny photos, illustrations and handwritten notes on the side help guide the reader and add to the setting of a small town that has a hard time getting the latest technology and is a time before the explosion of Smartphones and tablets. The font changes from typewriter to regular typeset that also aids with changing point of views or shifts in scenes. All these clues will help the reader working toward fluency. A funny adventure that will satisfy students.

4 Smileys

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