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GYPSY RIZKA by Lloyd Alexander


by Lloyd Alexander

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-525-46121-3
Publisher: Dutton

This tome from Alexander (The Iron Ring, 1997, etc.) showcases all the elements of a farce as mayors and councilmen, gypsies and ragamuffins supplant kings and princes, warriors and magic cats. Episodic chapters resemble short skits as the orphaned gypsy girl Rizka, with intentional but lighthearted mockery, merrily exposes the townspeople of Greater Dunitsa for all their quirks and quixotic notions. She is soothsayer, matchmaker, and healer rolled into one. With a glint in her eye and a trick up her sleeve, the quick-witted Rizka can make grown men cluck like chickens, believe in town hall ghosts, or stuff herring down their pants in an effort to grow smarter, all “in the name of civic duty.” For a stretch, the plot is more of the same, pitting Rizka against the evil Chief Councilor Sharpnack, who seeks only to rid the town of the “pestilential Gypsy vixen” and her impudent cat Petzel, “the only blot(s) on the town’s reputation.” In a series of “carefully managed coincidences,” snowballing plot elements land many of the bumbling government officials in their own jail. All comes right again, for as Rizka has wound her way into the lives of the townspeople, she has also found her way into their hearts. Alexander has a flair for finding the comedic in his pageant of characters, while his chain of absurdities reveals a truth or two about the human condition along the way. (Fiction. 10-14)