cover image Gypsy Rizka

Gypsy Rizka

Lloyd Alexander. Dutton Books, $16.99 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46121-0

""Skinny as a smoked herring; long-shanked, bright-eyed, with cheekbones sharp enough to whittle a stick,"" the half-Gypsy girl Rizka lives with her impudent cat, Petzel, in a dilapidated caravan just outside the town of Greater Dunitsa. On her own since her mother died, Rizka awaits the day when her Gypsy father will return to sweep her off with him to the traveling life. In the meantime, the sharp-witted urchin keeps busy deflating the pretensions of the town's most complacent burghers--and being a true friend to those few who appreciate her worth. Rich with comic exaggeration and the folksy cadences of a tall tale, Rizka's sassy escapades include outwitting the town's narrow-minded Chief Councillor Sharpnack, furthering two local romances, impersonating Greater Dunitsa's resident ghost and sharing the wonders of Ali Baba's cave with the dreamy, book-loving town clerk. The narrative brings to mind the author's lighthearted Vesper Holly books rather than his more serious-minded Westmark trilogy; a sweetly poignant conclusion draws together the various episodes while making a gentle point about the importance of family, home and friendship. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)