QUEENSHIP TOWN RESOURCE RECOVERY CENTER:
RULES: NO LEAVING GARBAGE
AT GATE. DON’T PUT FOOD
GARBAGE WITH OTHER STUFF.
DRIVE SLOW INTO DUMP.
THIS MEANS YOU!
Joyce loves gruff Old Dad, and she loves the colored bottles he collects for her from the Resource Recovery Center where he works. Joyce loves the wildlife that lives on the road near the house, and the gorgeous produce that comes from the garden she and Old Dad have on their property. Because of the compost from the food garbage, they get eight foot sunflowers in their garden. Joyce would be really, really happy, if only she didn’t have to go to school. Ever.
School is not a great place. School is where Joyce gets called ‘The Dump Queen,’ and gets teased by her classmates that she stinks and she lives in a dump. Joyce’s classmates don’t care that their house is a long walk from the dump, or that Old Dad washes up and changes his shirt before he comes to dinner. They don’t care that her house is as neat as a pin, and even the garbage doesn’t stink because Old Dad separates it out and covers the food garbage with sand so it will compost. They don’t care about the truth. They just want someone to laugh at.
Joyce is lonely, lonelier than anyone else in her whole school, she thinks. But there are other people who are just as… alone. There’s the janitor, Mrs. Fish, for one thing. “Crazy Fish,” is what people call her, because she sings while she works. She wears the weirdest brightest clothes, gigantic bows in her hair, and she smiles all the time. Doesn’t she know everybody thinks she’s nuts?
She might. But the thing is, she doesn’t seem to care.
When grumpy, hermit-like Old Dad falls ill, everything falls apart. Can Joyce trust Crazy Fish to be a true friend – the kind who won't throw her away just because of where she lives? The kind who can save the day?
A quirky story of an unusual friendship for ages 8-12 by Norma Fox Mazer.
This review was first published in the January'08 Edge of the Forest Children's Literary Monthly.