Today I am going to depart from the normal trajectory of this column. I do this frequently enough that perhaps the deviations should be the normal trajectory, nonetheless…
I recently won a contest on a blog written by a friend of mine from high school. At Margoblog, she hosted a little writing contest. Well, it wasn’t really a writing contest, per se. Entrants were called upon to create a musical instrument such as would be appropriately studied by a knight belonging to the Order of Odd-Fish, a group of knights devoted to the study of all things useless, confusing, impractical and obfuscatory. The prize for the best musical instrument was an inscribed copy of the YA novel The Order of Odd-Fish and a mix CD to accompany the book. And the judge of the contest was none other than James Kennedy, the author of The Order of Odd-Fish and a friend of my friend.
Much to my delight, I won the competition! (You will have to find the blog post to read my entry – it’s in the comments section.) A couple weeks later, the requisite white cardboard box arrived in my mailbox. In it I found a mix CD, a yo-yo (a random inclusion) and what is turning out to be the most delightful and darkly compelling book I have read in a long time.
I was delighted when a colleague told me the other day that she had just put the book into her New Teen Reads display. Which meant that now everyone at the library could enjoy it – not just me!
Jo Larouche is by no means a typical 13 year old. By any standard, she is remarkable. She drives an ancient boat of a car. She works in a diner full of senior citizens. She is the niece of Lily Larouche, actress and recluse. She lives in a ruby palace in the deserts of California. And on a most memorable Christmas night, she meets a three-foot-tall cockroach named Sefino.
Would that this meeting were the most extraordinary of her experiences! Alas not. Not long after Jo and Sefino make nice, the cropduster in which they are fleeing i from the Evilest Man in the World is shot down by a fleet of zeppelins. Eventually, she is barfed – along with Lily, Colonel Korsakov, Sefino and Sir Oliver – from the belly of a fish into the welcoming arms of the citizenry of Eldritch City.
But what is this fantastic place? And who exactly are the knights of the Order of Odd-Fish? And why is it that Eldritch City would turn on Jo in a fury and tear her to pieces with their bare hands (and perhaps even their teeth) if they were to ever find out who she really is?
And who is she really?
You won’t know unless you read the book! (Nor will you ever likely encounter knights who fight on ostrich-back.)
Check out a copy now!