I finished this book in a day, starting at the dentist, finishing as I enjoyed some cold pizza (shh don’t tell my dentist) from dinner, and it became a new favorite. Granted, Tales of a Seventh-Grade Lizard Boy might not be an OMG BEST BOOK EVER, but I really enjoyed how we take the being different theme and make it (while specific to our hero Tommy) a generic idea. That is a favorite thing about science fiction/fantasy. You take the Idea You Want to Present but make it in a way where you can step outside of yourself and deal with it without being “in the middle” of an issue(s) you have biases about. After all, most of us probably have not meet a lizard person so few people have opinions on them.
The story of being different takes on a bit of a turn with Lizard People and a whole lot of crazy seventh grade antics. Dealing with typical teen issues of siblings/older sisters, first day of middle school, friendships, romance, and being a lizard person (okay that one might not be typical) we can see ourselves in at least one of the characters. There is the bully, the new kids (one is a Vietnamese immigrant whose parents are researching the strange occurrences in town), the issue with being yourself, the stigma of “working people” and what is a “cool” job or not, people not understanding how you could not care about what others think about you, the caring (but clueless) adults, and so much more. Humorously told, this serious subject is a graphic novel for reluctant and readers alike. Adults can appreciate this as well (the teacher and his taxes come to mind, but the rest, too).
I won’t say a lot about the illustrations as my reader copy had them in black and white with a couple samples of the full color finish. However, they look like they will be fun, simple (not simplistic) and be a support for the story. The background will be minimal, and what color I saw seems like it will highlight important places, people, and things (one characters hair is purple and hot blue; I think the eyes of Tommy and his family will also be highlighted). And the details will be there to show you something, not overriding anything.
There are a few extras at the end, one people a lengthy, but wonderfully interesting explanation about the influence and inspiration for the character Dung Tran, the Vietnamese student. There is a section with food (and why a Korean dish makes an appearance), even a little about the author themselves. Also, turn every single page at the end for a Marvel reveal at the end. There is not a single page you want to skip over.
And now my geek squeak: I tweeted Jonathan Hill, the author, and he responded!