A delightful folk tale for children about friendship, forgiveness and how Lizard Lick, N.C., got its name.
Matthews’ debut children’s book tells the story of the amusingly named little town of Lizard Lick, a real-life town in North Carolina. The true origins of the town’s name are shrouded in mystery (and may have something to do with moonshine and thirsty lizards), but Matthews invents a fun, imaginative folk-inspired version of its origin. Young Carson asks his grandfather, Papa Richard, how Lizard Lick got its funny name. Papa Richard tells that once, there were two types of folk living by Sweetwater Pond: the Lizards and the Frogs. On the edge of the pond, the Lizards were led by Mayor Walla and their police chief, Broadhead Billy; out on the lily pads, the Frogs of Frogville follow Mayor Hairy Frog and their own top cop, Bullfrogger. Harmony and friendship reign in Sweetwater Pond until a drought hits; as resources dwindle, the Frogs decide that the pond isn’t big enough for both them and the Lizards. To decide who will have ownership over the pond and who will have to leave, the Frogs challenge the Lizards to a sports competition, which includes events such as the long jump, a 10-meter run and a tug of war. The ensuing contest is sure to keep children on the edges of their seats, but the title might give the game away; as Papa Richard says, “It was because the lizards licked the frogs.” But Matthews’ tale isn’t about winners and losers, but about the power of forgiveness, the importance of sharing, and the good karma that comes from playing fair and square. The author’s easy-to-read, descriptive prose is accompanied by Taylor’s beautiful watercolor illustrations that colorfully and wonderfully develop the story’s world and characters. The Frogs and Lizards are rendered in exquisite detail, with humanlike expressions, while still retaining their animal qualities, and the backgrounds will give young readers a great sense of the North Carolina landscape.
A wholesome, down-home children’s book, with fine illustrations and a kid-friendly moral.