cover image The Lucky Lizard

The Lucky Lizard

Ellen Kelley. Dutton Books, $14.99 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46142-5

The unorthodox narrator of Kelley's debut novel is a feisty, flippant lizard, the loyal pet of eight-year-old Todd Boucher. Perceptive Bima quickly realizes that his new master lacks self-esteem: Todd is the youngest and shortest kid in third grade and is afraid to learn to ride the racing bike he receives for his birthday. Sporting some unorthodox skills for a reptile (he understands human language and learned to read by watching Sesame Street at the pet store), Bima also issues numerous comical asides. When Todd takes him to school, the teacher advises the boy to hold Bima up higher to give his classmates a better view; Bima, fearful of heights, says to himself, ""No! Higher is a bad idea, lady."" Then, when a student asks, ""What kind of a lizard is he?"" Bima quips, ""A dizzy lizard!"" But, on a more significant plane, the lizard inadvertently inspires Todd to give his bike a try--and helps him come to terms and make peace with the class bully. Kelley pulls off her unusual premise with humor, and her tale will likely give a subtle boost to kids with shaky confidence. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 7-10. (Oct.)