order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish

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“Kennedy leapt about the room”

February 18, 2009


One of the highlights of my Michigan visit was speaking at the Rochester Hills Public Library, when my aunt Sandee, her inamorato Frank, and my cousin Marissa dressed up as Aunt Lily, Colonel Korsakov, and Sefino from The Order of Odd-Fish. What the article above doesn’t mention is that, before the event started, all three of them scampered around the library in character, enthusiastically cajoling patrons to come to the reading!

Then, just as Kricket (the librarian on the right) was introducing me, the blast of Colonel Korsakov’s trumpet announced the arrival of Aunt Lily, prancing and flouncing in with great drama, reading one of her parts from the book. After Aunt Lily finished and we chatted for a bit, I sat her down, but then I was interrupted by the arrival of Sefino, fulminating about the tabloids. After a pleasant chat with the cockroach, I got down to my own reading. It was one of the most enjoyable events I’ve had; it was made even more enjoyable when, during the question-and-answer period, my father innocently asked where I got the idea for “the All-Devouring Mother.”

Of course none of this would be possible without the miraculous Kricket Hoekstra, the RHPL’s young adult services librarian. Thanks, Kricket! Afterwards, she and her librarian friends took me out to lunch. Below, clockwise from top left, are Lindsay, Kricket, Jody, and Sarah. (The same saucy librarians who interviewed me for Librarian Beat a couple weeks ago. Rowr!)

That weekend I also visited my old high school, Bishop Foley. What a surreal experience! Mrs. Molnar, who was my English teacher twice, is now the principal. Back in 1991 Mrs. Molnar gave me the first writing award I ever received, the delightfully named “Genevieve Wregglesworth Excellence in Writing Award.” Genevieve Wregglesworth!

Anyway, Mrs. Molnar hasn’t lost her taste for cracking the whip: she gave me an all-day schedule, doing six forty-minute sessions to 15-60 students at a time. But it was a hoot. Some of my old teachers came by, and some old friends from high school showed up too, all of which I very much appreciated. Even Mrs. Russell, the vice-principal in my day, who gave me more detentions that I care to mention, came to the event, bearing one of her dreaded pink slips.

Below, Mrs. Molnar giving me the Genevieve Wregglesworth Award in 1991; eighteen-odd years later, there’s me, Mrs. Molnar, and my old principal Mr. Gajewski:

Speaking of writing awards, I’d like to award my own personal Genevieve Wregglesworth to an
eighth grader named Libby who emailed me a marvelous two-voice poem inspired by Jo’s struggle with the Ichthala in The Order of Odd-Fish. (I’ve reprinted the poem below, with her permission.) I confess I wasn’t very familiar with multi-voice poems until quite recently, when my niece Freya introduced me to Laura Amy Schlitz’s delightful Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! After reading Libby’s poem about Jo and the Ichthala, all I have to say is that Schlitz had better watch her back, and her Newbery.

Take it away, Libby:

Jo The Ichthala
I can feel it, I can feel it,
welling up
inside.
I fight,
but I don’t know how much longer
I can last.
resisting me,
but she weakens.
Soon, I shall be in
total control.
I don’t want this!
I’m not a monster!
The world shall soon
suffer my wrath.
I need to tell someone,
blurt it all out,
just saying so will make me feel better.
But will I be treated the same?
Fear the All-Devouring Mother!
Down my throat
the universe will go,
for I am ravenous today!
There is only one thing I know
for certain:
No matter what,
I will fight. I will fight.

Awesome, Libby. Thanks a million!