Regarding the Fountain

Just finished reading Regarding the Fountain by Kate Klise, the book that we’ll be discussing in this Tuesday’s meeting of the fifth grade book group – and I’m very, very pleasantly surprised.  The book is fresh and funny and clever, with just enough mystery to keep the reader fully engaged (and feeling a little intelllectually superior to the slow-to-figure-things-out characters).

The book was chosen for the group by one of its members, a well-read young lady with an old soul.  She promised us, quietly and with a sly smile, that we’d really like the book, and several times when she’s been in the children’s room she has said to me, with a twinkle in her eye, that she can’t wait to discuss the book she chose.  All a bit cryptic, but now I get why she was being so coy about the book.  It’s unique, a rare thing these days in children’s literature.

Without giving too much of the book away, because I’m sure I enjoyed it ever so much more for knowing absolutely nothing about it, I’ll share a few tidbits about it.  As the subtitle tells us, this is “A Tale, in Letters, of Liars and Leaks.”  The letters are an assortment of faxes, memos, notes, and friendly letters, and the reader would be well-advised to pay attention to all the details of the letters as they read.  Letterheads, names (oh, especially the names), and dates all matter in this story.  A group of fifth grade characters write many of the letters, as does their teacher, the school secretary, and the principal.  Also writing are our two villains, and the mysterious fountain designer Florence Waters (Flo for short).  As I mentioned above, there’s a touch of mystery, which I won’t give away, and lots of friendships forming and flourishing via the pen. 

You’ll have to trust me when I say it’s delightful, and that you should read it.  As an extra incentive, there are fabulous illustrations by the author’s sister, M. Sarah Klise, that remind me at times of Edward Gorey’s illustrations (though Klise does have her own cool style, and I don’t want to degrade that).   You have your assignment.  Read the book.  And I’ll let you know what the fifth graders say about it on Tuesday.