Though the premise revolves around a science experiment gone wrong, it’s unclear why the lizards would have supernatural abilities such as shapeshifting and unbreakables bones while also being “dumb,” “dumber,” and “stupid.” Richardson’s textured digital illustrations, though, are funny, engaging, and at crucial moments evocative, capturing both a spirit of comic-book fun in the scratchy linework and inventive character design, but also a spirit of adventure in the vistas, backdrops, and unexpected encounters. (A tea party and a convertible towing an Airstream trailer are special delights, as are Richardson’s depictions of the American west.)
Despite a plot that wanders, and terse rhymed text that mainly sets up the images, Lab Lizards delivers a playful story that doesn’t take itself too seriously and finds delight in unlikely scenarios, especially as the crew dons human disguises to help elude the classic men-in-black government pursuers. Prioritizing friendship and camaraderie above just about everything else (other than eating, making mischief, and escaping), Rodney, Booger, and Stump show readers that even nonhumans have something to show us and that they can be our friends too. Even if not everyone has access to genetically engineered lizards.
Takeaway: Three lizards go on a rollicking adventure and make friends along the way.
Great for fans of: Todd Sturgell’s Except Antarctica, Elise Parsley’s If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't!.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
Fabulous book for children. I recommend it to everyone.
This story is about three strange Lizards on their journey from near death to amazing success. Despite their odd and unusual qualities, they make lifetime friends along the way. The book is both fun to read and beautifully illustrated and although aimed at a young audience, it's fun for adults as well.