Illustrated by Elliott Gilbert
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Maxine Kumin brings a disabled heroine named Lizzie to life in this exciting adventure of black markets, screeching monkeys, Florida in the summertime, and the bonds of true friendship.
America, meet Lizzie Peterlinz, age 11. Paralyzed below the waist after slipping off a diving board two years ago, Lizzie does not let her wheelchair get in the way of her curiosity. She and her single mother are starting life over in a small town in Florida, where Lizzie's hunger for knowledge and adventure lead her to some unlikely friends. She bonds with Josh, the only other disabled kid at her school, and they rejoice in normal kid activities, despite the awkward stares they face at school. And she and her mother make friends with some elderly neighbors, Teresa and Digger Martinez, who become Lizzie's adopted grandparents, teaching her Spanish and encouraging her to embrace her life, difficulties and all. One of Lizzie's favorite things to do is visit a run-down roadside petting zoo, run by a slow-moving gentle giant Lizzie and her mom affectionately call Henry the Huge. One afternoon, as Lizzie is exploring the fields behind the petting zoo, she comes across a shack full of screeching monkeys and the mysterious boy who cares for them. A man with a slick grin arrives on the scene, and Lizzie begins to uncover where the monkeys came from. With Josh and Digger's help, she puts the pieces together, but it's too late, the monkey thief strikes again—and this time, it's Lizzie who's in danger.