Review – Lizard’s Tale by Weng Wai Chan

lizards tale blog post cover
  • Title: Lizard’s Tale
  • Author: Weng Wai Chan
  • Genre: Children, Mystery, Historical Fiction
  • Source: Netgalley
  • Publication Date:  27 Feb 2020
  • Publisher: Text Publishing
  • Format: Kindle

I know very little about World War Two (WWII) in Asia (1940’s) and Lizard’s Tale was able to convey a lot of information about this period and region in an appealing age appropriate story about espionage.

It’s Singapore in 1940, war is just around the corner—but twelve-year-old Lizard doesn’t know that. He lives in Chinatown above a tailor’s shop, surviving on his wits and hustling for odd jobs.

When he steals a small teak box containing a Japanese code book from a Raffles Hotel suite, he finds himself in a dangerous world of wartime espionage. Lizard doesn’t know who to trust. How is the mysterious book inside the box connected to his friend Lili, a girl full of secrets and fighting skills? Can he trust her, or will she betray him in the end?

Lizard’s Tale is an action-packed adventure for middle-grade readers, set in a British colony in Asia as the Japanese invasion of Singapore looms. Goodreads

This spy story touches on empire, colonialism, nationalism and identity. And cleverly highlights the racism between cultures, prejudices against races and national identity.

Lucas Zachariah Dale, known as Lizard is a biracial young boy who has had a fractured start to life.

as the years went by, Lizard had stopped asking, though the hurt of being given away like a bundle of rags had never fully gone away.

 Lizard arrives at his Uncle’s house at 4 years old and we are never told why his mother made that decision to have him live with his father’s side of the family but we can surmise.

He is half Chinese and half English.  Throughout the book there are references to the prejudice he faced from looking different, being different and as a consequence  not fitting in anywhere without comments on his differences. One example is his spoken English was with a British lilt.

Where do you belong, who determines that and why?

Lizard Tale follows primarily three children Lizard, Lilli and Georgina who are trying to find out the significance of a book he stole, its importance on current events  and Lizard’s low key search for his missing Uncle Archie. The is a friendship group that started out of necessity but real bonds are made through their trials.

What I loved

I am a sucker for intrepid children who are resourceful and disarming.  Whose small efforts make a big difference in their lives and in Lizard’s Tale, the world stage. These are children who have purposely decided to make a stand against obligation, expectations and gender roles.

True to the era, the stereotype of girls not seen and heard, are maximised by Lilli and Georgina who are quick-witted and capable females.  In fact, all the children bring their individual skills to bear in resolving this layered mystery.

Final Thoughts

Lizard’s Tale is about friendship, courageous children and making a difference when trying to find a place that fits. It’s paced just right, pitched at a level that adults and young children would enjoy and the writing is terrific. There’s no glaring obvious clues, just those seen by skilled detectives.

Such a great book, I’m hoping to read more about Lizard or a new tale from this author soon

My thanks to NetGalley and Text Publishing for an advance copy of this book in exchange for a candid review

4 Stars – Really Liked It

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Engrossed Reader

Reading whenever she can, often to the detriment of sleep. Enjoying most genres with preference for ebooks and audiobooks, mainly for convenience.

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