The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain

Common Sense Media says

Funny middle schoolers' adventure brims with potty talk.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will learn about the science and methods of wastewater treatment (an unusual subject), and how to write a haiku. Issues surrounding urban development and its affect on small business and housing prices, are also explored.

Positive messages

Sometimes breaking the rules is worth the risk.

Positive role models

Each of the three friends in The Qwikpick Papers has exemplary qualities. Dave is very well-behaved and encourages his friends to follow the rules. Marilla is brave and adventurous. Lyle, the narrator, is a thoughtful son and friend.


There's lots of gross-out stuff, and some precarious situations, but no real violence.


Both of the boys like Marilla, and Lyle gets a little hug from her, but that's as far as it goes.


Not surprisingly for a book with the words "Poop Fountain" in the title, there are numerous mentions of "poop" as well as "pee," "doo-doo," "BM," "fart," "crap," and other descriptive but never profane, words.


Brand names and products mentioned in The Quikpick Papers include Big-O-Honey, Wal-Mart, Taco Bell, Mountain Dew, Mr. Pibb, Ms. Pac-Man, PlayStation, and the movies Terminator 2, The Lion King and The Princess Bride.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Both of Lyle's parents smoke cigarettes. Lyle's dad thinks that Larry, the manager of the Qwikpick, has a drinking problem.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain is a novel by Dave Angleberger. Like his popular Origami Yoda series, this story revolves around the friendships of young teens, including family life, first crushes, and popular culture. The Quikpick Papers is narrated by Lyle, who plans an adventure with his closest friends, Marilla and Dave, to sneak into the local waste-treatment facility to see the "poop fountain," which is part of the wastewater cleaning process. There's a lot of non-profane potty talk and gross-out moments. Readers learn that Lyle's parents smoke and their boss may have a drinking problem, but adults are not active participants in the plot, which focuses on the kids' adventure, their desire for independence, and the economic differences and changes that affect their families.

What's the story?

Tom Angleberger's novel The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain is narrated by Lyle Hertzog, a middle schooler whose parents work in a Qwikpick convenience store. Lyle and his friends Marilla and Dave hang out in the break room at the Qwikpick, where they eat snacks, play Ms. Pac-Man, and make plans. Because Lyle's parents work in a 24-hour shop, and Marilla's family members are Jehovah's Witnesses, and Dave's family is Jewish, all three friends are free on Christmas day and want to have a fabulous adventure together. When one of their classmates brings an article to civics class about changes at the local waste-treatment plant, the three decide to go see the "poop fountain" (part of the wastewater processing) before the facility switches to a new system. Their Christmas adventure leads them to view first-hand some of the changes happening to housing in their community. (Lyle's parents are worried that new townhouses will price Lyle's family and all the other inhabitants of their trailer park out of the area.) Even more so, it prompts loads of potty talk and laughs, and some mishaps they won't forget.

Is it any good?


THE QWIKPICK PAPERS: POOF FOUNTAIN will surely entertain middle-graders and tweens with hilarious potty language and the prospect of a visit to a poop fountain. Meanwhile, kids will also learn some fun (and funny) facts about waste treatment and the ways economic "progress" affects financially disadvantaged families.

It's also worth noting that this little group of friends is racially and religiously diverse. This new book from a very popular author is silly, engaging, and actually somewhat eye-opening.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the kids' visit to "poop fountain." Why do you think they wanted to go there so much?

  • How does The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain compare with the Origami Yoda books by the saem author? 

  • The three friends write hilarious haikus about the smell of the poop fountain. Try writing your own funny haiku.

Book details

Author:Tom Angleberger
Illustrator:Jen Wang
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Science and nature
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Amulet Books
Publication date:May 20, 2014
Number of pages:144
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of The Qwikpick Papers: Poop Fountain was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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