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Drawing on the experiences of his Vietnamese American family and his love of ’80s sci-fi shows, Jonathan Hill crafts a funny, insightful graphic novel about the immigrant experience and the perils of middle school.
Threatened with diminishing resources, Booger Lizk’t and his family flee their lizard community deep below Earth’s crust to survive above among humans. The Lizk’t family of Elberon now passes as the Tomkins family of Eagle Valley. “Tommy Tomkins” wears a human face to school but can’t seem to fit in no matter how he looks. The basketball team becomes a pipe dream when bullies label him a bug eater, and only Dung Tran, an immigrant from Vietnam and fellow outsider, sees Tommy for who he is inside, which is nothing like the outer-space lizard invaders on TV’s hottest series. Can their friendship survive the truth? In his first solo middle-grade book, award-winning creator Jonathan Hill perfectly captures the sometimes dystopian drama of middle school while reminding readers of the universal need for belonging.
About the Author
Jonathan Hill is the creator of Odessa and the cocreator of Americus and Science Comics: Wild Weather: Storms, Meteorology, and Climate. An Ignatz Award–nominated graphic novelist, illustrator, and educator, he lives in Portland, Oregon.
This funny, entertaining graphic novel centers friendship and self-discovery as it skillfully balances comedy with serious topics like identity and belonging. Informed by his Vietnamese relatives’ immigrant experiences and his own childhood, Hill writes with thoughtful insight. . . . Engaging and thought-provoking.
Employing a bright and energetic palette, uncomplicated paneling, and a cast comprising varying skin tones and body types, Hill keenly portrays the effects this othering has on Tommy and Dung, and how connection, mutual support, and earnest understanding can bridge even significant differences.
Though it’s a true all ages book, students in grades five through eight will find the most to love here, with relatable characters and conflict. Quirky but grounded illustrations that feature colors by Nyssa Oru complete the storytelling package. . . . A touching story for anyone who has ever been an outsider, this book is an empowering tale of being comfortable in your own skin, seeking out those with whom you can bond, and learning how to navigate this bizarre and confusing society in which we live.
—School Library Journal
This clever and subtly deep graphic novel explores immigrant identity via lizard beings in a respectful and thoughtful way. . . offering readers a chance to view outsider status through the lens of something that challenges all ideas of casual tolerance. . . .Vivid colors, wry humor, and playful ignoring of traditional panel structure lighten the heaviest moments, firmly focusing this story on working toward better things.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
A captivating graphic novel about identity with suspense, humor, twists and turns, and plenty of heart. I absolutely loved this book.
—Aron Nels Steinke, Eisner Award–winning author of the Mr. Wolf’s Class series
This book will make you squirm and warm your heart. Beautiful art and a compelling story of self-acceptance.
—Nidhi Chanani, author of Pashmina
Starting at a new school is hard—especially if your last school was located in Earth’s core! This is a gripping and ultimately very moving story about a boy seeking to gain acceptance for who he is when blending in is no longer an option. It’s also a story with great lashings of drama, mystery, adventure, and just a pinch of X-Files weirdness. I loved it.
—Ross MacDonald, author of Henry’s Hand