Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler (Walker Books)
RRP $ 14.99
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis
Cody is a curious and questioning child who loves activity, the universe, and the habits of ants. It’s the first day of summer holidays. Camp is a week away, and boredom has already set in.
Cody meets Spencer, a timid and shy boy staying at his Grandma’s around the corner while his parents are on holiday. He is beside himself with anxiety as he has lost Grandma’s cat, MewMew. Cody is more than willing to help him look for it.
Things begin happening everywhere around them. They find the cat and start a friendship. Cody’s mum gets a promotion at the shoe shop where she works. Dad, a truckie, has left on a long haul. Wyatt, her super-smart elder brother, is nearly run over by his secret love Payton on her bike. Then Cody is told that Summer Camp is cancelled due to a discovery of toxic chemicals on the property.
To settle Spencer’s fears that the cat will run away again, Cody offers to hypnotize it so it will stay close. This leads to the thought that if a cat can be hypnotized, can Payton be hypnotized to care for Wyatt? When Payton kid sits Cody, she is shown another side to Wyatt by his shrewd sister.
Cody and Spencer’s friendship is by now cemented. She is his protector and he is her impulse stabiliser.
This illustrated chapter book for the 8+ year age group is humorous and clever. Its sequence of events entertains while the dialogue, full of wisdom and warmth, wraps the reader in contentment.
Themes of family unity, the importance of friendship, and thinking before you speak or act, are subtly threaded through the story. There are lots of different situations that weave into one another with the main attention being on Cody’s zest for life and being occupied, and her interest in all living things.
Black and white illustrations visually enhance the story and highlight the entertaining characters. This story is ideal for reluctant readers of both genders. Its issues are evenly divided to incorporate all of the characters in the book and their dilemmas.