Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Regarding the Bathrooms: A Privy to the Past

Regarding the Bathrooms: A Privy to the Past

Kate Klise
Illustrator:  M. Sarah Klise 
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006   ISBN: 978-0152062613

School is out and the summer vacation has begun. Principal Walter Russ from Geyser Creek Middle School is going to be hosting the Society of Principals and Administrators (SPA) conference in August and he is very anxious about it. He has to give a speech and he is also very worried because the bathrooms in the school basement, which the guests will be using, are appalling. He needs help and so he writes to Florence Waters, who has helped the pupils and teachers at the school in the past. Florence is happy to help out and promises to work on ideas for the speech, and some plans for new bathrooms, while she is on vacation in Bath in England.

   Principal Russ is not the only person in Geyser Creek who has problems . Everyone in town is worried because two criminals, Sally Mander and Dee Eel have escaped from prison. The Mayor is upset because he cannot think of a single way to attract tourists to Geyser Creek. The kids in Mr. N’s class are not exactly thrilled because summer school has started. When they rebel against learning about geology, Mr. N tells them that their assignment is to find volunteer jobs for the summer. They are not thrilled about this assignment either but it isn’t long before most of them find work. The only ones who are having trouble finding something to do are Lily and Paddy. They want to help Sheriff Mack find the two missing convicts, but he refuses their help. He is not allowed to use young volunteer investigators.

   Paddy and Lily do not give up easily, and when Florence supports their efforts to become investigators they get to work trying to find out why the school bathrooms are so filthy. They also help Mr. N in the school garden where they quite by accident stumble across something rather odd. There are all kinds of very old artifacts in the garden and no one can figure out where they are from. People begin to speculate that thieves are storing stolen artifacts in the garden before they sell them online. Even Interpol starts to get interested, and soon Lily and Paddy are working for the international organization trying to find out who is behind the antiquity smuggling ring.

   As the summer progresses the situation in Geyser Creek gets worse and worse. Principal Russ gets so stressed that his health starts to suffer, two of the newly married couples in town start to have real troubles, and accusations and unkind words start flying left, right and center.

    Told using a series of letters, emails, newspaper articles and other documents, this wonderful story combines all out hilariousness with serious elements to give readers a tale that is so engaging that one has a hard time putting the book down. Clever word play can be found throughout the book, and readers will enjoy trying to solve the mysteries presented in the narrative.