February 9, 2009

"Lizard Music" by Daniel Pinkwater

I promise to do something other than a kids' book at some point ...

Kidlit author Sam Riddleburger (author of The Qwikpick Adventure Society and co-author of the forthcoming Stonewall Hinkleman and the Battle of Bull Run) clued me in to Lizard Music, and I'm very glad. This is a wonderful mystery/adventure about a boy, Victor, whose parents and older sister have all left him for a few weeks. He stays up late one night and sees a quintet of lizards playing music on TV.

As he tries to find out more about the lizards' show, he encounters the eccentirc "Chicken Man" (with more aliases than it's worth recounting) and finds that the world is not quite what it seems to be. He notices how fake the world around him is, and he begins to see that he has a choice whether to be part of it or to try to be something more.

The book is full of allusions to great classics, and considering the number that I spotted, I wonder how many I missed. For example, when the Chicken Man and Victor finally reach the invisible island of the talking lizards, one of the lizards (Reynold) looks at their hands and his own, and remarks "five-men, like us!" A plainer homage to The Island of Dr. Moreau would be difficult. (Victor watched a movie called "The Island of Dr. Morbo" which sounded remarkably like Moreau one night, too!)

The story is fun and hits at some real points regarding individuality, thinking, and being unique. It's a great story, and well worth the read. It's a light mystery, and pretty much all in the thinking and exploring. No fight scenes, no terror, nothing of the sort.

The book borders on the surreal, but that's not a bad thing.

4/5, and I might be short-changing it.


  1. I am so glad you liked it!

    Now, perhaps you're ready for Alan Mendelsohn. Which goes way over the surreal border...

  2. This sounds interesting. I love books/movies that have lots of allusions to other books/movies.


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