Tales of a Seventh-Grade Lizard Boy

Candlewick/Walker. Sept. 2022. 288p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781536216462.
Gr 5-8–Tommy is a member of a family of lizard people who had to flee their subterranean homeland due to a crumbling society and dwindling resources. Now attending school as a seventh grader, Tommy misses his birthplace and is frustrated by having to wear a disguise and fit in among surface-dwellers. In the depths of misery, however, Tommy meets Dung and Scarlett, new students at his school who are outsiders facing challenges of their own. The three become fast friends, but it’s not long before conflict interrupts their relationship. Though it’s a true all ages book, students in grades five through eight will find the most to love here, with relatable characters and conflict. Quirky but grounded illustrations that feature colors by Nyssa Oru complete the storytelling package. Back matter includes an author’s note connecting elements of the story to Hill’s own experiences growing up Vietnamese American.
VERDICT A touching story for anyone who has ever been an outsider, this book is an empowering tale of being comfortable in your own skin, seeking out those with whom you can bond, and learning how to navigate this bizarre and confusing society in which we live.

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