By: Weng Wai Chan
Published on: July 2, 2019
Set in pre-war Singapore during the British colonization, Weng Wai Chan takes us to a time period where everyone is starting to feel the stress over the possibility of war with Japan and their potential invasion. Lizard’s Tale is primarily about a Japanese Navy code book the British are trying to get hold of and that the Japanese are trying to get back.
At the beginning of the story we find that Lizard (his initials are LZD) has been hired to steal a teak box from the general manager of the New British East India Company. He had been warned that this box is dangerous and could get his boss and him killed, which soon after comes true when the person who hired him is murdered before Lizard can deliver the box. Soon after Lizard finds himself in the world of spies and rescue attempts as Lizard tries to figure out what to do with this box.
I am so glad I got a chance to read this book. Besides being a delightful story, what this book offers young and old readers is the chance to learn a little history and and potentially learn more about other cultures. The author does a really good job of creating a setting that feels very authentic to the location, period, and characters within the book. By weaving in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Japanese words, phrases, and sayings we are given the opportunity to feel immersed in this land during this period of history. Not to mention insights into the culture or era when the author shows us how those who have multiracial parentage might have been treated, along with providing us with Singapore citizen’s sense of fear of a potential Japanese invasion and how different citizen’s may have felt about British colonization.
The events in the story are fictional, however, the Author’s Note section at the end of the book tells how there were indeed spies on both sides collecting information prior to the Bombing of Singapore on December 8, 1941 and that some of the characters and locations are inspired from historical figures or places.
There is also a glossary at the end for the words/phrases used during the story.
Due to a murder and death scene near the beginning of the book that includes a weapon and blood and because younger readers may have trouble with the new words/phrases being introduced I am recommending this more for the older middle graders audience.
Rating: 4.5 stars
A thief. A spy. A mysterious codebook. And a whole lot of trouble.
It’s 1940 and World War II is being fought in faraway Europe. Lizard doesn’t know much about that. He lives in Singapore’s Chinatown, surviving on odd jobs and petty theft.
When Boss Man Beng asks him to steal a teak box from a suite in the glamorous Raffles Hotel, Lizard knows the job is important. But can he know just how dangerous it is?
A sinister man appears in the shadows, and Lizard’s best friend, Lili, shows up with unexpected fighting skills and her eye on what’s in the box.
And Lizard finds himself on an exciting, action-packed adventure in a world of coded secrets, Japanese invasion plans and undercover spies.