Lizard’s Tale

Text. May 2020. 320p. pap. $8.95. ISBN 9781925603910.
Gr 5 Up–Debut author Chan brings forth a World War II story set in steamy Singapore. Lizard is an orphan living off odd jobs and his own street smarts, and is only vaguely aware of the far-off war being fought in Europe. His main benefactor and boss gives him a job worth more money than he’s seen in a lifetime, but when the job ends with disastrous results, Lizard must use his wits to outsmart the enemy. He must ask himself if the job is truly worth it, and what he’ll do to uncover the truth. Even though many middle grade novels take place during or around World War II, a book set in Singapore is a welcome change. Chan writes this plot-driven novel with witty humor, and sets Lizard up to be a modern-day Aladdin—flying by the seat of his pants. While the story moves fast and the reader is compelled to turn the page, the world and the characters surrounding Lizard often fall flat, and do not strike the reader as real.
VERDICT A welcome change of pace from the “typical” World War II novel; however, occasional character and setting flaws are distracting.

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