Lizard Music
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Lizard Music

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  1,037 ratings  ·  125 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....more
Kindle Edition, 162 pages
Published (first published 1976)
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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
Diana Welsch
Sep 13, 2012 Diana Welsch rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...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
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
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
Nick Fagerlund
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...more
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
May 31, 2013 Troy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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.
Jennifer Nix
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.
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
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...more
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...more
Dec 08, 2008 Jess rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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
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
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...more
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 storyline involving a civilization of chicken-revering, wise and peaceful lizards inhabiting a secret island. When Victor, a young boy stumbles upon myster...more
Ok, of all the books I professed to love growing up, this was the first one where I remembered huge swaths of dialog and even sentence structure. So I must have really loved this book. Here's why I think I loved it so much.

1. Parents abandon child. I totally wanted this to happen to me. All my favorite childhood books follow this theme (ie. Homecoming, Island of the Blue Dolphins, A Wrinkle in Time).

2. The protag, Victor, has a really matter-of-fact way of observing things that I found funny, an...more
I read this book many times as a kid. It's weird and funny. It's not action adventure, but the random plot of secret lizard bands floating on an invisible island in Lake Michigan is great.

5-26-10 Just read it again. It's dated, but in my opinion holds up better than a lot of other stuff from the 70's. The protagonist's obsession with Walter Cronkite and late news is funny I think, but modern kids wouldn't get it.

The kid tries smoking once when his parents are away and hates it. There was a tim...more
James Erich
Not quite as good, in my opinion, as Pinkwater's "Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy From Mars" Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy From Mars, Lizard Music is still one of Pinkwater's best. The author is brilliant at taking us gradually from "normal" to completely bizarre, while somehow making the transition so smooth we hardly notice the trip until we've arrived.

I suppose what made this novel somewhat less entertaining for me than Alan Mendelsohn was that it was a little more obvious that something strange was goi...more
Going in, I assumed this would be a delightful/quick reread of an old favorite. And it was, but I was surprised by how much more there was to it. It's very matter-of-fact about race and white flight in a way that kids can understand. But also with talking lizards.

Additionally, this is the book that taught me what a bail bondsman is, so that's nice.
Sue Poduska
Victor is home alone and ready to tackle the world. He loves anchovies on his pizza and Walter Cronkite. Then the lizards start appearing: as musicians on late night television, on album covers, on Roger Mudd’s shoulder, in a nature show, and in a man’s hand. He also runs repeatedly into the Chicken Man, an odd character with a chicken, many names, and many jobs. Victor, the Chicken Man, and a chicken named Claudia search out the mystery of lizard society on an invisible floating island. They fi...more
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.
Andy Tischaefer
Pinkwater's stuff is easy to like, and Lizard Music is no exception. One of the blurbs on the back of the book says that "Pinkwater writes books for smart kids" and that is a good assessment. All of his main characters are just slightly off-center. His novel "Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death" was a favorite of mine when I was in middle school, but I was never able to find other stuff written by him at the time. Now I am slowly working my way through other Pinkwater novels.

Lizard Music is...more
There were some amusing aspects of the story, which is why it gets two stars, but ultimately it just felt kind of pointless. There was a lot of buildup, followed by a relatively brief and unsatisfying resolution. I wanted to know more about the lizards, and what happened to everyone. I should also note for anyone thinking about reading this with their kids that this is going to feel pretty dated-- the young protagonist keeps talking about how awesome Walter Cronkite is, for instance, and while t...more
Really good book, my dad read it to me when I was a kid, but it will never get less random and funny. Recommended for all ages.
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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
More about Daniel Pinkwater...
The Big Orange Splot The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization 5 Novels: Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars / Slaves of Spiegel / The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death / The Last Guru / Young Adult Novel The Hoboken Chicken Emergency The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death

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