Review Blog

Jul 31 2019

Lizard's tale by Weng Wai Chan

cover image

Text Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9781925603910.
(Age: 9-13) Highly recommended. Themes: Adventure, Singapore - History, Spies, Stealing, Secrecy. A fabulous adventure story, Lizard's tale brings to life the Singapore of 1940, on the brink of war. Desperate to make some money for rent and food, 12 year old orphan Lizard steals a mysterious box from an English man staying in Raffles Hotel. Inside is a strange book and dangerous people are after it. His friend Lili is hiding secrets and his Uncle Archie has disappeared. He finds himself embroiled in the dangers of espionage. Who can he trust?
I enjoyed this action packed spy story immensely. Lizard and Lili are courageous and resilient children who are prepared to take risks for what they believe in. Their friends are equally brave and daring. The smells and sights of Singapore are vividly described and it is easy to imagine the opulence of Raffles Hotel and its wealthy British occupants, as well as the streets and homes of the everyday inhabitants of Singapore.
Middle grade readers are sure to enjoy the sights and sounds of Asia as they follow Lizard and Lili's escapades, while evading the Japanese spies. The humour and exciting encounters in Lizard's tale would also make it a great class read aloud. I can imagine a class wanting to try curry puffs after hearing this story, and desiring to know more about Singapore of the 1940s and today. It would also make a very effective literature circle or class text.
There is a glossary of words (Cantonese, Mandarin, Malay, Japanese, Hindi and Hokkien) at the back that truly shows the multicultural nature of Singapore and the author's note sets it firmly in its historical context.
Teacher's notes are available.
Pat Pledger

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