Welcome to Dry Creek Middle School -- where the motto is "We Thirst for Knowledge." When Principal Walter Russ asks his secretary, Goldie Fisch, to write a letter to Flowing Waters Fountains, Etc. regarding the purchase of a new drinking fountain for the school, all sorts of hilarious chaos results. This delightful, engaging, and truly unconventional mystery is told through letters, newspaper articles, telephone and interview transcripts, postcards, faxes, memos, and other "official" documents. Reading this scrapbook-like story is like looking through other people's mail!
What Dry Creek Middle School needs is a plain, functional drinking fountain to replace its leaking old one. What it gets is Florence Waters, impresario fountain designer who has in mind something with exotic birds, an ice skating rink, geysers and chocolate milk dispensers. This rollicking story, told entirely through letters, memos, newspaper articles and transcripts, escalates into a hullabaloo involving a fifth-grade class, an evil school board member, a sinister water company executive and an increasingly bewildered principal who fruitlessly attempts to scale back Florence Waters's grandiose plans ("Do you all have scuba gear? What about ice skates?... Also, I'm sending a parcel containing cyperus papyrus. This is the famous Egyptian paper plant," Waters jots in one postcard). The artist's somewhat primitive illustrations add to the scrapbook effect of this novel, but in the final illustration not enough is made of the eccentric new fountain to satisfy the anticipation brewing for the previous 100-plus pages. Still, it's a good-natured story with an irrepressible main character who won't take no for an answer.