Lucha Lizards: Chameleon Cage Match!
written by Donald Lemke; illustrated by Chris Eliopoulous
2013 (Stone Arch)
Source: Orange County Public Library
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There are books that don't receive sterling reviews but are worn out by young readers. Sometimes reviewers just don't get the joke. Lucha Lizards is one such book. In this graphic novel, a town of lizards love to wrestle. Lucha libre is a form of wrestling where wrestlers wear colorful masks. Most of the lizards in Luchaville grapple. The only exception is Little Leon, a chameleon who likes to hide at the mere mention of wrestling. All is well until a giant komodo dragon comes to town. He challenges all of the lizards and easily defeats each opponent. What's cool about this book is through the dialogue you learn facts about reptiles. On page 7, there is a hilarious "tale of the tape" between a lizard and an amphibian. When everything seems lost in Luchaville, Little Leon hides his way to defeating King Komodo and capturing the belt.
I asked my fourth grade daughter about this book and she said it was funny. I grew up watching professional wrestling so I thought it was funny too. It would be a good assignment to hand this book to a reader and ask them to pick out several facts about reptiles. There is also great banter between the lizards and King Komodo that could be used for a lesson on synonyms. We need more mash-ups like Lucha Lizards to engage readers and spice up the serious world of nonfiction.