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Welcome to Lizard Motel: Children, Stories, and the Mystery of Making Things Up
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Welcome to Lizard Motel: Children, Stories, and the Mystery of Making Things Up

3.05  ·  Rating Details ·  59 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Welcome to Lizard Motel is a completely original memoir about the place of stories in children's lives. It began when Barbara Feinberg noticed that her twelve-year-old son, Alex, who otherwise loved to read, hated reading many of the novels assigned to him in school. These stories of abandonment, kidnapping, abuse, and more-called "problem novels"-were standard fare in his ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Beacon Press
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Mar 04, 2008 Becky rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
While Feinberg makes good points about the seemingly high number of "problem books" in YA literature, and the need for giving the right child the right book at the right time, her argument continually circles back to what books she might have liked or needed when she was a child -- which is irrelevant. She's done her growing up already.

Yes, there are a lot of "problem" books these days. It's a trend, and one that will eventually give way to another trend. That new trend will have its censors as
Kris Marley Patrick
Apr 26, 2013 Kris Marley Patrick rated it it was ok
She spends the first eighty pages eloquently trashing contemporary children's lit, mostly the "problem novel" ... Including my beloved Walk Two Moons :( ... Then she moves on to her next target- Columbia Teachers College. I admit that she has challenged my thinking... And maybe I don't understand Writing Workshop as well as I thought but I stand in Calkins' defense.
Dec 11, 2008 Emily rated it it was ok

It is a book about--if it can be said to be about anything--the author's problem with modern children's/YA literature. It makes her kids depressed and she doesn't like it. I'm somewhat sympathetic to the book's basic premise. I think there is a lot of YA literature that deals extremely well with dark, serious issues; but about 10 or 15 years ago, there was such a glut of superficial YA problem novels. On the other hand, there is something about the arguments that makes me very argumentative; it'
May 28, 2009 Jamie rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-hated-this
This seemed so promising. But there were SO many problems with this book. Number one, and this is sort of silly but it was incredibly distracting, is that it's written in the present tense. And she's not very good at it - present tense can feel immediate, and important... but this is a memoir, so I feel like by definition it should be in past-tense (says the girl who loves Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius). Maybe she's just not a good enough writer to pull it off.

Beyond that, I feel ultim
Jul 02, 2008 Cynthia rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: affluent, stay-at-home, know-it-all parents who like to complain
This book starts out with a very good and interesting premise- YA books might be too depressing and are not tapping into the real way young people see the world- they are more hopeful and use fantasy more to deal with trauma and are therefore more resilient, happy people than the protagonists they are "forced" to read about. This is why I gave it 2 stars and not just 1.

Anything positive about this book ends there. It lacks any kind of cohesion and degrades into a self-important rant about litera
Raine Mclellan
Jan 13, 2013 Raine Mclellan rated it liked it
The Lizard Motel, a memoir by Barbara Feinberg is an intrigueing story taken from Mrs. Feinberg's life about her family, and herself as she explores the world of children. The book talks about her views on childhood, how her childhood compared to her children's was so much more sheltered and magical. How her children are being exposed to the harshness of reality, especially through literature. Mrs Feinberg continues to question herself throughout the book why children are exposed to cruelty and ...more
Nov 01, 2007 Jean rated it liked it
This was an irritating book from many angles. She's a mom who is concerned that her son (who loves Mel Brooks, so is obviously into COMEDY) doesn't like to read the "problem" novels he is assigned in school. So she starts to read some. In the public library. With her lunch. Then she lays on the floor and takes a nap. How can I take this woman seriously?

I appreciated the latter part of the book when she describes her daughter's surgery and how frightened the child was. But she never really made t
May 28, 2008 Tracy rated it it was ok
I really appreciate the author's examination of young adult literature's "issue" trend. Well-meaning people often hit kids over the head with "reality" instead of letting kids come to their own conclusions -- not to mention that kids can handle some dark truths, but how that information is presented is crucial.

I disagree with the reviewers who say the author was trying to impose her childhood wishes on today's kids. She said that kids need to have the space and time to enjoy reading and telling
Jan 07, 2013 Applehillcottage rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Readers seem to be all over the place with reviews of this book. I'm thinking it depends on which side of the fence they sit. Regardless of which side your on, Feinberg is an engaging, thought-provoking writer. Reading this book was like sitting down with a quirky, sometimes eccentric friend, who sometimes just goes off on a tangent. But it's always an interesting tangent, and that's why you like hanging out with your friend.

I come down solidly on the side of the author, so perhaps that's why I
May 29, 2009 Beverly rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Really putrid as a memoir of the author's childhood and her experiences with reading and the imagination. Even worse in her description of her current life with her 2 children and their reading (and writing experiences). However, in her exploration of current YA and children's 'problem novels' she makes some valid points and offers a thoughtful analysis of how childrens' imaginations and perceptions differ from the concept of childhood offered by the authors in question. She does have a tendency ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Phoebe rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, adult
I forgot I'd already read portions of this book, and it made me just as tired as the first time I read it! The author is essentially commenting on the nature of YA literature today, and it's the same argument we've been reading so much about in recent months, flames refanned by the article in the Wall Street Journal. It's certainly important to protect children and maintain their innocence, but not all children have a magical childhood--not all children are as lucky as Feinberg's kids. A ...more
I've wondered the same thing, why children, when childhood is so short, and you have so many years as an adult to be faced with the grim realities of life, must be faced with these heavy themes. I feel like reading "On My Honor", about two boys told not to go near the river, disobey, and one drowns, round about fifth grade, scarred me for life.

I mean, you can't shelter kids from hard things, I was twelve when 9/11 took place. But why make it harder by assigning these novels? This a was basically
Dec 27, 2012 stephanieisabookworm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed this memoir, which was as much about being a mother as it was about children's books. It was fun for me because I'm probably not too much older than the author's kids, so I had been made to read some of the books she was talking about when I was in elementary and middle school myself. It was also interesting to get a lay view on contemporary children's books. I don't know how interesting this read would be to people not intensely interested in children's studies and children's ...more
Dec 18, 2007 Jon rated it really liked it
The problem with kids and YA books, as Feinberg sees it, is that much of adolescent literature places trauma, catastrophe, and negative emotions in the context of a solid, thought-heavy adult world. This is a world that rings untrue to the wavy, imagination-heavy world of the adolescent psyche.

Feinberg's warning is that we need not use literature to shake kids out of the innocent magic and joy of childhood; they need to go that journey at their own pace and with care.

Sep 30, 2015 M.L. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost gave up on the book when the author went on and on about her nap on the public library floor, but I kept going because I was so interested in the topic of YA literature. I would have liked a little more information on YA books, and a little less memoir, but I was glad I kept going. Her family story became more interesting, and the writing was really nice.

K.M. Mara
Jun 21, 2012 K.M. Mara rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and read it in one sitting. I liked her ideas about social commentary vs. story-telling, as well as her way of unfolding and intertwining her own story. Clever, intelligent writing. I'd love to read more.
K.M. del Mara
Oct 13, 2011 Sophie rated it it was amazing
This a great book. The author discusses many points about childhood. She talkds about imagination and what kids should/shouldn't know when they are young. The main discussion is about books kids are forced to read in schools. Loved it!
Nov 21, 2008 Lesley rated it it was amazing
What a great book on childhood and imagination. A must read for anyone who is interested in children or remembers being one!
Mar 31, 2011 Danielle rated it liked it
i picked this up because I wanted to know what drives a mother to go up against her school systems mandatory reading list for her 12 and 9 year old children.
This book tried to combine a memoir with a discussion on how children's literature has changed. I was interested in both parts of the book, but it took too long to weave them together.
Kelley rated it liked it
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