I have to admit that I may not have normally picked up a book called Poop Fountain (Interest Level: Grades 3-6; not yet Lexiled), but since I met Tom Angleberger at the ALA Midwinter Conference, and he signed a copy of the book for me, I figured I would have to give it a try.
What I discovered in the first book of the Qwikpick Papers series is a very good story about normal kids in a normal town who try to have an adventure on Christmas Day. They aren't sure what they want to do until they heard an article in the town newspaper about new equipment at the wastewater treatment plant that would replace the old "sludge fountain." What in the world is a sludge fountain? Well, that is what the 3 members of the Qwikpick Adventure Society wanted to find out. So, they plan and head out on a "normal kid" adventure.
One thing I liked about this book was that it is totally realistic--an adventure that normal kids can (and possibly have) taken. The timeline works, the characters are believable, and the events really contained some stinky messes. The jokes were "solid"-ly kid-appropriate, as was the language. Readers of all ages will be delighted with this true-to-life adventure. (134 p.)
Cece Bell's Newbery Honor Winning book, El Deafo (Interest Level: Grades 3-6; not yet Lexiled), tells the story of the author's childhood and how hard it was to start a new school with a bulky hearing aid strapped on under her clothes. Her school hearing aid worked with a microphone that the teacher wore; this helped her to be able to hear the teacher clearly. The surprise was how MUCH Cece could hear of what the teacher said, no matter where she was in the building!
El Deafo is a graphic novel, meaning that the story is told in comic-like pictures. I usually find these types of books difficult to read, but as I read this story, I found myself unable to see how it could be told in another way. Cece Bell's use of pictures (and speech bubbles in particular) really made this a fantastic descriptive story of what it was like for her to grow up with impaired hearing. Students who enjoy stories about kids who overcome difficulties, and students who imagine themselves superheroes will join the students who love graphic novels in enjoying this book! (248 p.)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.