When I think of Daniel Pinkwater, the first book that comes to mind is always Lizard Music. It’s funny, intense, goofy, and light, sometimes in turns, sometimes all at once, in a way that leaves you off balance and finding something new every time you read it.
When Victor’s parents go (extremely reluctantly) on vacation and his older sister skips out, he is left alone to assemble his model airplane and obsess over Walter Cronkite. The best part is he gets to stay up late. He watches the Walter Cronkite show with Roger Mudd, monster movies, and then the lizards come on and play music like he’s never heard before.
I love how enthusiastic Victor gets. I love the Chicken Man, a man of many names and many talents, and his chicken, Claudia. I love how it turns out that Invasion of the Pod People is really a documentary; pods are people who ” seem to be going through the motions of being humans without really meaning it or understanding it.” I love how the crazier things get the more fiercely Victor insists he’s sane. Well, I suppose he’s about as sane as you can expect an eleven year old to be. The book really captures just how weird things can be.
Since it’s a chapter book, the language is simple, jarringly so at times. But it’s also a fast read. The ending seems abrupt, shooing Victor back to what passes for normality in 1975 America. It’s all so odd, sometimes I think he just flipped out for a week while his parents were gone. Sometimes I think he helped save the world from pod people. Who knows?