Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb. Candlewick Press, 2015. Illustrations by Eliza Wheeler.
Here's why I like Cody and the Fountain of Happiness:
- Cody's an average kid - Mom works in a shoe store, Dad's a truck driver, she argues with her older brother Wyatt, though it's clear that they love each other.
- Cody is positive and decisive.
- Her new found friend, Spencer, is an African-American boy with a super hip grandma. (The percentage of African American characters in early chapter books is rather slim, so this is a plus.)
- Cody's mom and dad are positive role models.
- Eliza Wheeler's illustrations are simple, soft, and expressive.
- Spoiler alert! Mom gets a promotion at the shoe store.
Here's an excerpt. Cody is waking her brother on their first day of summer vacation and refuses to be daunted by his grumpy mood.
"Want to go to the dog park and pick what dog we'd get if only we were allowed to get a dog?"
Wyatt put his hands over his eyes.
"No?" said Cody. "How about we look for rocks and have a rock stand and use the money to buy a skateboard?"
Wyatt slowly got to his feet. He was very tall and skinny. If he were a building, he'd be a skyscraper, but a droopy one.
"Silencio," he said. He toppled back into bed and pulled the covers over his head. "You are causing me pain. A big fat pain in my cerebral cortex."
"Do you want some tea?"
"No, Brain Pain. I want you to disappear. Preferably forever."
"I can't," said Cody. "I promised Mom to take care of you. I never break a promise."
Give Cody a try. Though you may wonder about her peculiar fondness for ants, I think you'll like her, her family, and her friends!
My Advance Reader Copy is 151 illustrated pages.