- Lizard from the Park
- written and illustrated by Mark Pett
- published by Simon & Schuster (2015)
- Roar Score: 4/5
The story of a boy and an egg, which turns out to be a lizard, which turns out to be much more. What’s not to love? The latest from “authorstrator” Mark Pett, Lizard from the Park is a delightful tale about imagination and responsibility.
Most days, Leonard walks home from school by himself. One day, though, he decides to cut through the park. While there, he stumbles upon a mysterious egg and – like any good inquisitive kid – he takes it home. Where he plays with it all afternoon and cuddles up to it at night.
That’s a bit weird, I’ll grant you. And my kids thought so too, as they broke out in a fit of giggles when they saw Leonard playing dress-up with an egg. But I’m certainly not one to knock weirdness.
And, in this case, Leonard’s eccentricities work out for the best. The egg hatches, and Leonard is suddenly proud papa to a lizard. Named Buster. Who has a knack for growing. And growing. Until he’s not quite a lizard anymore.
For small kids, the story takes some unexpected turns they might not see coming. And Buster’s true family, when they make an appearance, will undoubtedly delight.
Is the story the product of Leonard’s overactive imagination? Or is it a fantastic tale that really happened in some remote corner of Central Park? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The real message here is one of responsibility.
Leonard shows an altruistic nature by taking in the lizard, caring for it, and then taking on the task of making sure it gets safely home to its family. Mark Pett cleverly disguises his message of kindness and compassion as a dinosaur tale. (Oops, did I give too much away?)
The irony here is that we never see Leonard’s family. No parents, no siblings, no caregivers. He seems to have complete freedom to roam about the city, ride the subway, visit museums, and walk wherever he pleases. All by himself.
Is he really on his own? It would take a much longer review and deeper analysis than I have time for here to examine just how Leonard learned such compassion on his own. I’ll leave that to you, the reader, to figure out on your own.
In the meantime, make time for this charming book. Pett’s art is relatively “simple”; he chooses to focus on only the essentials, so some pages seem almost minimalistic. But it works. The art is incredible, the story is enchanting.
(Disclosure: Simon & Schuster provided me with a review copy of this book. All opinions remain my own.)