How to Talk to a Frill-Neck Lizard, by James Moloney

Bern saw the lizard first, but it was Cody who named him Tarantula.
‘Tarantula! That’s a kind of spider,’ said Bern.
‘Yeah, I know. A really scary spider,’ said Cody.

Bern and Cody live in the Australian bush on a cattle station. They find and tame a frill-neck lizard, ‘feeding him insects on the back verandah’. Bern’s an action man, but Cody is more reflective, and sure he can understand what Tarantula is thinking. Uncle Mo comes to stay and notices how fast Tarantula can run. He sees the chance to enter the lizard in a race and make some fast money. Despite the boy’s objections Mo takes Tarantula to the race. They follow and soon are caught up in pre-race excitement. Only the lizards seem unaffected. Bern discovers a surefire way to get the lizards running and they do. Bern and Cody are both sure they are responsible for their pet winning the race. However, Uncle Mo doesn’t get to keep the prize-money for very long. There are colour illustrations on every opening.

How to Talk to a Frill-Neck Lizard is a new offering from Omnibus in their ‘Mates’ series. Each is a tall tale, uniquely Australian. Bern and Cody rub along, gently bickering, but caring for their new pet. Each has their own talents. In rocks their chancer uncle, Mo, keen to eat Mum’s cooking and make a few quick quid. In How to Talk to a Frill-Neck Lizard the humour is almost slap-stick, chapters are short, the illustrations are bright and humourous. Perfect! Added extras are the chook and the lizard in the header/footer. One chook slowly makes the journey through the pages to visit the second chook. A lizard moves in the opposite direction. These extra little ‘stories’ are for young readers to notice and enjoy, the way they enjoy the visual narrative as well as the words in a picture book. Recommended for newly independent readers making the transition from picture books to novels.

How to Talk to a Frill-Neck Lizard (Mates)

How to Talk to a Frill-Neck Lizard (Mates), James Maloney ill Simone Linehan
Omnibus Books 2010
ISBN: 9781862918146

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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