Whoever heard of a lizard hatching from a stone? No Ordinary Lizard by Diane Owens is not just a simple tale of having a pet and then having to let go. It’s the story of an extraordinary lizard who is like no other lizard on Earth. Of course, being unusual it doesn’t eat normal lizard food. It eats cat food. And it’s not even nice to the cat. Poor kitty. The lizard ties silverware to the cat’s tail! This lizard changes colors with his moods and changing emotions. He learns to draw, read, and write. But since he’s no ordinary lizard, he is hunted. Who wants him and how does he escape? You’ll find out in this funny story about friendship.
I fell in love with Benson, the lizard in No Ordinary Lizard by Diane Owens. Written with children aged 8 to 10 in mind, the story is just like the title; no ordinary story. Diane Owens’ creativity with the idea and the many twists and turns in the book will keep all readers interested, even those who have a hard time conquering reading. I would also recommend it to younger children as a “listen to” book. In addition to imagining such a wonderful story, Ms. Owens has created a website which offers reading and writing connections for several grade levels but mainly third through fifth. The site offers content matched to common core for informative, opinion, and narrative writing. It also offers writing material for each chapter of No Ordinary Lizard. As a retired educator, I highly recommend both the book and the educational materials to teachers and parents. Both the book and the site are high quality. I fully expect No Ordinary Lizard will become as beloved a children's story as Charlotte's Web!
NO ORDINARY LIZARD tells the story of an 11-year-old girl living in Iowa City. Ruth, the protagonist, has been given an unusual rock by an aunt, who is very dear to her. In fact, Aunt Myk really is the glue that holds young Ruth together emotionally since her best friend moved away, her younger brother is a pain, and her parents are quite straight and narrow type of folks. The unusual rock produces a lizard somehow and from there the adventure begins for Ruth. For this lizard is, well, no ordinary lizard. The loveably and somehow accidentally naughty lizard goes on many escapades while Ruth tries to keep him under wraps. When Aunt Myk announces she will be moving away from Iowa City, things start to get really intense for Ruth and the adventure escalates from there.
Diane Owens’ writing in NO ORDINARY LIZARD is impressive on many fronts. One of the most important talents of this author is superb use of first person voice. As the character, Ruth, tells the story, the reader is completely convinced it is being told by an 11-year-old girl. Every phrase, thought, and description is precisely the way a young girl would tell it. This helps with the enjoyment of the book tremendously. I felt as though Ruth was right there next to me on the couch giving me the blow by blow of what happened next. A second notable talent of Ms. Owens is the ability to write for young people. After the first (70) pages, I could see it was good and downloaded the book for my 11-year old son to read. We then raced to finish the book giggling along the way. The first night he started the book, I had to take it away from him and make him go to sleep, so the book appeals to its target audience as well as adults. Lastly, I feel Ms. Owens truly gets middle grade humor, likely because of her profession working with young readers so much. Both my son and I found portions of the book quite funny. I feel the book will appeal to both boys and girls ages 8 to 14.