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Lizard Music

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,395 Ratings  ·  151 Reviews
The Big Orange Splot, The Neddiad, and
Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl

Things Victor loves: pizza with anchovies, grape soda, B movies aired at midnight, the evening news. And with his parents off at a resort and his older sister shirking her babysitting duties, Victor has plenty of time to indulge himself and to try a few things he’s been curious about.
Kindle Edition, 162 pages
Published (first published 1976)
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Jan 30, 2008 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You have not actually lived until you have read this book, in part because the Chicken Man is a necessary and essential guru for true life, and in part because you must learn to find the Lizard Music that is permeating the airwaves all around you when you stay up too late at night, but most of all because truly living most definitely involves absorbing the worldview of Daniel Manus Pinkwater. If you disagree, but cannot articulate why, then you are, I am sorry to say, existing in a soulless void ...more
Erica Ravenclaw
Jun 26, 2014 Erica Ravenclaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

The Five Books That Made Me Fall In Love With Reading: #2


Alright so that's a little dramatic, I suppose but it has a grain of truth. I am in my last year of my twenties, and I've come to realize that we are only gifted with a certain amount of vivid childhood memories. I'm speaking specifically of textural memory that swirls into your vision, and just a moment floods your senses. I was in third grade and was a student of Mrs. Wright. She was a short and plump Mexic
Diana Welsch
Sep 13, 2012 Diana Welsch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 10-year old boys
I received this book as a birthday or Christmas gift from my parents when I was a child. We lived in kind of an isolated area, and I couldn't get to the library whenever I wanted, so needless to say I read this book a LOT. I got kind of obsessed with it around 5th grade, not just for the great story, but because I thought the rockin' lizards on the cover were TOTALLY BADASSSSSS!

Lizard Music is a hilarious adventure about a young teenager who is left alone when his parents go out of town. His fri
I am not sure why, but when looking through the Children’s Department of a bookstore a couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to read this book. Perhaps it caught my attention because when I saw it, it had been newly published in a gorgeous jacket featuring a black and white hand-cut woodblock picture with red binding tape as part of the New York Review Children’s Collection. I didn’t act on my wish to read it and gift it to a nephew until a friend recently revealed he, too, read children’s boo ...more
Brian Kelley
Instead of a current YA novel I reached back to 1976 to find a novel to read and review: Daniel Pinkwater's Lizard Music. My first impression is that the book captures the groovy "anything is possible vibe" of the 1970s. I was 8 years-old in 1976 and playing with my Evil Knievel Stunt Bike while Steve Jobs was busy launching Apple. The Concord flew, an Oil Crisis emerged, and Jimmy Carter became the President. Lizard Music doesn't mention any of it, but the whole feel of the novel was very nosta ...more
As a kid this one didn't click with me the way his other books did. I was a diehard fan (and still am) of THE LAST GURU and ALAN MENDELSSOHN, BOY FROM MARS. It seemed like anyone who read Pinkwater, though, was all about LIZARD MUSIC and had never heard of the others. I read it, and again, it was fine.

Now I've read it aloud to my kids. My kids didn't know who Walter Kronkite was. They've never seen, let alone eaten, a TV dinner. But they laughed and laughed. Yes, I had to stop and explain about
Nicholaus Patnaude
Lizard Music is a bit of an off-the-radar legend for writers of the fantastic (Neil Gaiman, fr instance, has been heard singing its praises). Its a quick, funny, and surreal read with a voice of a young boy that is spot-on accurate. Lizard Music has the whimsy of books like Stine's Goosebumps, but it is far less formulaic and, somehow, more dangerous despite having less macabre themes--unless of course you consider the thinly-veiled yet predominant theme of insanity. There is an eerie sense of p ...more
Fuzzy Gerdes
Feb 19, 2010 Fuzzy Gerdes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read Lizard Music a couple of times before, and seen the stage version that Lifeline Theater did in 1997. This time I was listening to an audio version, read by the author, which you can download for free from A friend, recalling some of Daniel Pinkwater's NPR appearances, said that to listen to his voice for two and a half hours might kill her. And it's true that it's a gravely voice. But I just get so caught up in Victor's adventures alone in a thinly-disguised Chicago. The ...more
Feb 16, 2014 Saul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
This book starts out simple enough. A young boy named Victor from a semi-dysfunctional family, left at home without any supervision. So when musical lizards show up on TV after hours, a mystery begins to unfold. It involves a strange man with a chicken under his hat and late night horror films. Victor can't say what it all means, but he's gonna find out.

My daughter enjoyed reading this together with me before bed. It's a a wonderful Pinkwater tale. One where the story takes on dreamlike qualitie
Nick Fagerlund
Jul 18, 2013 Nick Fagerlund rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LIZARD MUSIC, y'all. I was feeling an urge to re-read, and I'd been drooling over the NYRB's recent maximum class edition with the geometric lizard cover, so I found a copy of that at Powell's.

It's always hard to decide which part of this book to explain to people, so maybe just a cluster of thoughtlets is in order.

* When I read this for the first time (age what, 11?), it seemed subversive as hell. It's about a young kid in a modern milieu navigating the world on his own, caring for himself, doi
May 31, 2013 Troy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tween boys.
Shelves: favorites
Warning: this rating and review based on severe nostalgia.

One of my all-time favorite young adult books. Weird, funny and creepy all at the same time. Victor the first-person protagonist is an incredibly identifiable character. My favorite moment is when he becomes so overwhelmed with his discovery of the lizards, The Chicken Man and the pod people, his mixture of fear, excitement, and his love of the beautiful lesser kudu he saw at the zoo that he weeps uncontrollably. Pinkwater's wandering ima
Nathaniel Hardman
Apr 23, 2013 Nathaniel Hardman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one weird book. In classic Pinkwater style, it's bizzare and outrageous, and there are moments where it's truly hilarious. It isn't always laugh-out-loud funny, but it's always amuzing. Pinkwater has this unique comedic voice that he uses - it's hard to describe exactly, but part of it is that he presents all the madness in a very matter-of-fact way. For example, the main character ends up in this secret city of super-intelligent lizards, and in the city he finds a fountain: "In the mid ...more
Trixie Fontaine
Apr 16, 2010 Trixie Fontaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I *adored* this book . . . felt like it was my entre into a world that totally made sense to me that nobody else I knew would "get". I'd love to read it again as an adult to try to see what it was that I loved SO MUCH. It was just bizarre and magnificent.

Update: I reread this last month and was thoroughly transported and reminded of so much I'd forgotten, and who I am and what I love. Lizard bands broadcasting on the tv late at night!!! Communiques only understood by chickens!!! Being rushed up
Dec 25, 2015 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book to my husband's son. It's a beloved one from my youth, so my opinions are colored with nostalgia. I enjoyed it so much that I have a tattoo from it on my leg.

It is about a boy who is on his own for a summer. He starts to see lizards everywhere, and starts to see the Chicken Man everywhere. He believes the lizards to be from outer space. Chicken Man guides him to a floating island where he meets the lizards, and one of their prophecies comes true.

This was written in the seventi
Mar 28, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chi-fantasy
A re-release form the late 70s.

I am not sure if kids today will have any idea who Walter Cronkite is but aside from that and a little dated language this book is basically an acid trip of a fantasy for kids.

Made me think back to being a kid in the 70s and realizing that there was a general surreal cultural component that permeated life, even in the burbs. I mean the Electric Company was a little crazy, no? This is like that with talking, lizard jazz musicians.
Natalie Douglas
Apr 01, 2014 Natalie Douglas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like to give my ratings to books based on my most recent experience reading them. Which means sometimes I have to think back to grade school and remember my experience with a book (hello, Ella Enchanted). What I remember most about this book was that I was OBSESSED with it in the second grade. It was like nothing I had ever read and inspired me to write stories and even though I had access to a library of books, I also kept rereading it.
Jennifer Nix
Oct 20, 2013 Jennifer Nix rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book in 6th grade... A long time ago, and I loved it. Found it on the shelf of the library at the school where I teach, and have read it often to my students. They love it too. It's a great 70s flashback, and a intriguing and hilarious story.
Lucy Murphy
Jun 24, 2015 Lucy Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still so good.
Dec 17, 2015 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Pinkwater makes me smile. His nerdy-boy books are zany and full of what I can only describe as Marx Brothers-vaudeville-Jewish-Borscht-Belt humor. Interesting to read a book published in 1967, with nary a computer or cell phone in sight - but there IS an invisible island, a chicken man with some very funny aliases, and lizards. Lots of lizards. If you liked William Pene du Bois' The Twenty One Balloons, you'll enjoy this. Both books are illustrated by the author, and sorry Daniel, but Pen ...more
Rachel Ladefoged
Jun 26, 2015 Rachel Ladefoged rated it liked it
A decent book, but outdated and not well written.

If you look at the date this book was written, you'll find it was written a long time ago. Normally, that doesn't mean the book well be bad, but not in this case. Most of the sentences are written with five words and are not constructive. *SPOILER ALERT* the plot is pretty much that an 11 year old boy is left by himself for a week and hires the chicken man as a guide to take him to this lizard island with sentient lizards. The chicken man's chicke
Feb 19, 2016 Kirby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book at least a hundred times from 4th to 6th grade. I haven't read it since, but I always look for it in bookshops. The copy I read was a hello hardback cover, with no picture. Just an old, faded yellow, hardback. It was magical! I would love to read it again. It is one of the books that has always stayed with me, and taught me the love that is reading and re-reading a story. This book will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will always encourage others to read it, no ma ...more
James Govednik
This was a notable early entry in the sci fi genre for ages 11-13, and with a title like that, I had to look into it. It was a trip down nostalgia lane (published 1975) but it's probably too dated for today's middle schoolers. The story is told in the first person, by a boy who manages to enjoy a couple of weeks with the house to himself one summer. I laughed at the main character's fascination with TV news--he knows all the quirks of the news anchors of the day, and goes into news-geeky detail ...more
Apr 18, 2011 Shazzer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
As posted on Outside of a Dog:

I've read some strange books in my time. There's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which was not nearly as weird as it could have been), the Hitchhiker's canon, The True Meaning of Smekday (a personal favorite of mine), etc. I like strange. It makes a welcome change from the everyday, every once and a while. But I have never in my life read anything as wondrously strange as Daniel Pinkwater's Lizard Music.

I'll admit this is my first Pinkwater title, though I've had a
Chance Lee
This was a very strange book about a kid seeing a weird lizard band on TV late at night and trying to find him. With the help of the Chicken Man (a creepy black man with a chicken on his head) he does.

The beginning of the book was quite magical in a surreal, 70s-flashback sort of way. Ten-year-old Victor has the house to himself for a whole week, so what's he going to do? Watch the CBS Evening News, with Walter Cronkite substitute Roger Mudd, make model airplanes, cook TV dinners in the oven, an
Apr 21, 2015 Jess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone with a kicky sense of humor, lovers of Walter Cronkite & lizards
Recommended to Jess by: Fantasy Syllabus
Shelves: z_08, fantasy, juniors
Victor's left home alone after his folks go on vacation and his hippie older sister ditches him for camping. Then the Chicken Man and lizards start popping up everywhere.

Wow, what an odd and occasionally delightful book. It's weird and strange and sometimes really, really funny. Victor is pretty much fantastic. How can you not love a character who spends entire paragraphs describing bad tv movie plots or wondering how Roger Mudd might handle/announce Walter Cronkite being trapped underwater in a
Aug 28, 2009 Hollowspine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed hearing this book read to me (by my brother) while driving here and there in the car. It reminded me of how I was a child, always waiting (hoping) that something interesting would eventually happen to me. When I was a kid I had really big plans (dreams) for the future which usually included something rather bizarre and completely impossible. But, one thing that my kid self always had was time, these amazing things were obviously going to happen to me in the future. I had to be ' ...more
Aug 22, 2008 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Victor's parents go on vacation leaving him in the hands of his crazy sister Leslie who splits the cash their parents left with Victor and takes off to Cape Cod with her hippie friends. Left alone Victor scarfs down TV dinners and pizza with anchovies, watches Walter Cronkite news, and stays up for the late, late movie. One night after the late movie he sees a lizard band playing some modern jazz and a weird lizard game show where everyone wears duck masks. Shortly thereafter Victor meets an old ...more
Oct 05, 2007 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daniel Pinkwater is awesome. This one is pure win with some really memorable lizard (and chicken man) characters. Booktalk below.

Lizard Music, by Daniel Pinkwater

Victor and Leslie’s parents needed a summer vacation. They left Leslie in charge for a week or two while they went to work on their relationship, or something. Even though Leslie was 17 and Victor almost 12, their parents left nearly every phone number in McDonnaldsville taped to the wall in case of emergency. They should have just tape
I really enjoyed this book as a kid, but its been more than a decade since I read it last. It was probably among the first fiction books I read, so I was curious to see what it was like and perhaps bring back some of the memories of my childhood. My impressions were of a very unique story featuring aspects of daily life intruded on by a wacky story line involving a civilization of chicken-revering, wise and peaceful lizards inhabiting a secret island. When the preteen boy, Victor, stumbles upon ...more
Mar 07, 2016 Thaddeus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-books
I loved this book as a kid; it's the reason I choose Grape Soda anytime I get a chance.

I ordered a copy for the boys and couldn't resist re-visiting it. The absurd world of Daniel Pinkwater was waiting for me like a comfortable cocoon. As Victor works to unravel the mystery of the Lizards that he's seeing on TV, he encounters the Chicken Man in all his various guises, questions his sanity and has fun adventures.

Can't wait for my boys to read it!
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Daniel Manus Pinkwater is an author of mostly children's books and is an occasional commentator on National Public Radio. He attended Bard College. Well-known books include Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, Fat Men from Space, Borgel, and the picture book The Big Orange Splot. Pinkwater has also illustrated many of his books in the past, although for more recent works that ...more
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