Tales of a Seventh-Grade Lizard Boy

Tales of a Seventh-Grade Lizard Boy
Author(s)
Genre(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
September 27, 2022
ISBN
978-1536216462
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Threatened with diminishing resources, Booger Lizk’t and his family flee their lizard community deep below Earth’s crust to survive above among humans. The Lizk’t family of Elberon now passes as the Tomkins family of Eagle Valley. “Tommy Tomkins” wears a human face to school but can’t seem to fit in no matter how he looks. The basketball team becomes a pipe dream when bullies label him a bug eater, and only Dung Tran, an immigrant from Vietnam and fellow outsider, sees Tommy for who he is inside, which is nothing like the outer-space lizard invaders on TV’s hottest series. Can their friendship survive the truth? In his first solo middle-grade book, award-winning creator Jonathan Hill perfectly captures the sometimes dystopian drama of middle school while reminding readers of the universal need for belonging.

Editor review

1 review
A struggle to be accepted
Overall rating
 
3.7
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
Being from a family of lizards brings a whole new perspective to being the new kid in school. Tommy must keep his identity as Booger Lizk’t secret in the human world but he hates wearing a mask all of the time. He just wants to be himself. Human food disgusts Tommy until he discovers kimchi and other Asian dishes. His mother and sister are adapting to the new human world more quickly but they don’t fully understand his troubles. An interesting twist is the lizards’ ability to transform their faces like chameleons and that power is creatively used to complicate the conflict.
Bullies and cultural differences are the main focus of the book. Tommy and his new friend Dung are harassed by bullies just for being new to the school. Dung’s unusual Vietnamese diet is a target of ridicule and Tommy’s lapse in judgment results in another student witnessing him eating his preferred food. The bullying is constant and cruel but the author adds a couple of unexpected variations to the situation. The story explores the confusion and anger felt by victims of bullying and the consequences when a bully becomes the target of taunts and teasing.
The story includes peripheral events that add context to intolerance for cultural differences and Tommy’s fear of being discovered. “Conqueror of Rept Isle” is a popular video game where players hunt and destroy reptilian characters. A hit television show is “Victory X” which depicts lizards invading the earth and impersonating humans. Bullies’ derisions and insults make reference to the game or show so they really hit home against Tommy. Then, a giant sinkhole appears in the town so citizens and the news let their imaginations explain this mystery. Tommy’s family comes from underground so any explanations have the potential to reveal the truth about their past. The story indirectly demonstrates the impact of media on society, especially with observers prone to prejudice and lacking independent thinking.
What didn’t work as well:
This graphic novel seems to have more text than others I’ve read recently but it still isn’t able to fully develop characters. Tommy experiences a wide range of emotions and the reasons are clearly communicated. Illustrations and limited words aren’t able to fully describe them though so the feelings are left at surface-level understanding. The book still presents a compelling story of cultural tolerance and learning to feel comfortable within your own skin.
The Final Verdict:
The graphic novel spins a creative tale of bullying as it takes a victim’s feelings in an unexpected direction. The amount of text makes the story better developed than many graphic novels and I recommend you give it a shot.
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