Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Qwikpick Adventure Society

The Qwikpick Adventure Society by Sam Riddleburger. ARC provided by author.

The Plot:

The Qwikpick Adventure Society is comprised of three kids: Lyle Hertzog (who is recounting their adventure, using the typewriter his Dad got him), Marilla Anderson (who took the pictures) and Dave Ruskin (maps.)

And the adventure involves a poop fountain. Oh no, I'm quite serious.

The Good:

This is a great, old-fashioned fun book. Three kids who hang out together and have an adventure: going to see the sewage treatment plant. Because the town is about to update the treatment plant so it will no longer have a, erm, poop fountain. The humor is from the kids, from the journey to the sewage treatment plant and what happens there.... I was laughing and almost throwing up at the same time.

Quotage is needed to convey the humor:

"But the word adventure is stretching it a lot.
"We didn't stop a smuggling ring or get mixed up with the mob or stop an ancient evil from rising up and spreading black terror across Crickenburg. . . . But we did see something that not many other people have gotten to see and no one will get to see again: the Amazing Poop Fountain at the Crickenburg Wastewater Treatment Plant."

Part of my love for this book? The amazing amount of times "poop" is said and each and every time it is a correct usage. What other word would you use? OK, technically it's a "sludge fountain"...but I love when the kids realize that really means poop.

I also like that it's more than just the story; there is the typed part, but also handwritten notes (as Marilla and Dave add their two cents worth), photos, even a mini comic book. I love the mix of ways to convey a story: it adds dimension to the plot and the characters.

Full disclaimer: the author lives in the same area that my aunt does. I love going down for 16 Hands. Sometimes, I think, wow, it would be cool to move down there (around Floyd County); but I'm not sure I'd survive the winters.

Anyway, "knowing" the area this takes place was an added treat. But, aside from that, it is a great setting; not just the Southwest Virginia setting, but also the working rural poor. Lyle's parents both work in the Qwikpick (Dad had a better job, but the factory closed up); they live in a trailer park. Lyle's writing this story on a typewriter because that is what the family can afford. Lyle's a good kid; he appreciates that getting the typewriter is the best his family can do for him. Marilla's family has seen a reversal of fortune because of a family illness eating up all their money, so they, too, live in the trailer park. How refreshing to read a book about kids who live in a trailer park -- with loving parents. No abusive drunks, no drugs.

The Great Origami Pegasus Triumph. No, I cannot explain more, but this had me laugh out loud.

Also good? Marilla's family are Jehovah's Witnesses. And it's just that matter of fact; no negativity, no stereotypes about it. It's who and what she is.

Age rang: I agree with the book jacket, that says ages 8 plus/ grades 3 up. In terms of younger readers, unless you have an issue with the word "poop," or a problem with the reality that some kids live in trailers*, it's a good read. And I also think that older readers looking for hi-lo titles will enjoy it. The use of comics, photos, etc., makes it a fun read; plus the kids are written in such a way that even young teens will have a laugh. Especially over The Great Origami Pegasus Triumph.

This book demands a sequel.

One more thing. Having just lived thru a summer of having to give boys books that, well, aren't the type of things they are interested in ... let me just say. THIS book should be on summer reading lists. It would make librarians happy to be able to give this one to the reluctant reader who is engaged in a war of wills with the mom because they don't want to read (insert Newbery winner here.)

*I kid you not, I had a parent at the library object to Because of Winn Dixie because she didn't want her kid to know that people lived in trailer parks. Can you imagine? And, while Lyle's family is struggling for money, I've seen some awesome mobile homes. We cannot all afford to live in McMansions.


The inspiring fountains of poop at The Roanoke Times
Cece Bell (the author's wife)
QwikPick homepage (for the book)
A Year of Reading review
Hey! There's a really cool T-shirt! (no, not of Poop. Hey, did I mention that "poop" is PeterParker's favorite word? Yeah, he's 4. I know.) More info on the T-shirt here (yes, I just did a typo of another word for poop instead of shirt. He he. I did fix it, tho).
Just Like the Nut review
Original Content (Gail Gauthier) comments

(I'm sure I read a few more reviews, but cannot find them, so if I missed you, leave a link in the comments.)


Gail Gauthier said...

I'm glad you reviewed this. I still haven't read it, myself, but I loved the idea of writing about a sewage treatment plant. Now that I hear there's a positive portrayal of a trailer park, I'm even more interested.

Suma said...
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