cover image Lizzie!


Maxine Kumin, illus. by Elliott Gilbert. Seven Stories/Triangle Square (Random, dist.), $21.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-60980-518-0

Eleven-year-old Lizzie is as candid about the diving accident that left her paralyzed as she is about the fact that "My father was a sperm from a sperm bank in California that specializes in sperm from very intelligent men." Living with her progressive mother in Florida, Lizzie doesn't spend much time lamenting the loss of her mobility. Instead, she eagerly soaks up new knowledge, carefully observes the adults that orbit her world, and frequents an exotic petting zoo run by a well-meaning but uneducated man%E2%80%94all of which she records in her "autobiography." When Lizzy learns that Henry's petting zoo may be illegally importing endangered animals, she faces a moral quandary. Kumin, a former U.S. Poet Laureate who died in early February, provides Lizzie with a voice that is endearing, if at times overly precocious. Lizzie's swift embroilment in a murder case associated with the petting zoo also strains believability. Nevertheless, that Lizzie's disability isn't the central focus of her narrative is refreshing, in a charming story about perspective, integrity, and developing one's own system of ethics. Art not seen by PW. Ages 9%E2%80%9312. (Mar.)