By Maureen Tai, 28 October 2022
The titular Lizard in this middle grade, historical thriller and riveting page-turner is a poor, green-eyed boy of mixed parentage. Abandoned by his Chinese mother and subsequently by his beloved British uncle, Lizard survives on petty crime and odd jobs in 1940s Singapore. His life is turned upside down when a job – to steal a teak box from a hotel room in the swish Raffles Hotel – goes horribly and unexpectedly wrong. The next thing he knows, Lizard is on the run. But why? From whom? What are the secret contents of the teak box? Suddenly, everything Lizard knows is not what they seem to be. Even his best friend Lili, his neighbour and a lover of curry puffs. Could she be more than just the daughter of a Chinese tailor living in Chinatown? Lizard’s Tale (ages 8+) will have you at the edge of your seat as you follow Lizard on his perilous quest to unravel the mystery surrounding his contraband. What is just as exciting for an older, Asian reader like me, is to see authentic details of pre-war Singapore both big – like the Raffles Hotel – and small – like the Brylcreem used by a local thug to slick down his hair – in a traditionally published, middle grade novel. Unputdownable.