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Lizzie, age eleven, does not let her wheelchair get in the way of her curiosity. After she is partially paralyzed in a diving accident, Lizzie and her single mom are starting life over in a small town in Florida, where Lizzie?s thirst for knowledge and adventure makes her some unlikely friends and gets her into some sticky situations. Resilient and precocious, Lizzie has a passion for learning new words especially those with Latin roots and a propensity for finding trouble, which is how she ends up stumbling upon...

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Lizzie, age eleven, does not let her wheelchair get in the way of her curiosity. After she is partially paralyzed in a diving accident, Lizzie and her single mom are starting life over in a small town in Florida, where Lizzie’s thirst for knowledge and adventure makes her some unlikely friends and gets her into some sticky situations. Resilient and precocious, Lizzie has a passion for learning new words especially those with Latin roots and a propensity for finding trouble, which is how she ends up stumbling upon criminal activities involving seedy characters, beautiful golden monkeys, and murder. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eleven-year-old Lizzie is as candid about the diving accident that left her paralyzed as she is about the fact that "My father was a sperm from a sperm bank in California that specializes in sperm from very intelligent men." Living with her progressive mother in Florida, Lizzie doesn't spend much time lamenting the loss of her mobility. Instead, she eagerly soaks up new knowledge, carefully observes the adults that orbit her world, and frequents an exotic petting zoo run by a well-meaning but uneducated man—all of which she records in her "autobiography." When Lizzy learns that Henry's petting zoo may be illegally importing endangered animals, she faces a moral quandary. Kumin, a former U.S. Poet Laureate who died in early February, provides Lizzie with a voice that is endearing, if at times overly precocious. Lizzie's swift embroilment in a murder case associated with the petting zoo also strains believability. Nevertheless, that Lizzie's disability isn't the central focus of her narrative is refreshing, in a charming story about perspective, integrity, and developing one's own system of ethics. Art not seen by PW. Ages 9–12. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Lizzie Peterlinz might just pull her wheelchair up to the table and take her place alongside Anne Shirley and Pippi Longstocking. She’s smart. She’s sassy. She’s curious. She’s courageous. And she loves Latin and words of all kinds. Told by one of the great American poets, Lizzie! is a flat-out wonderful read. I couldn’t put it down."—artist and illustrator Barry Moser

"Smart, spunky, and delightfully quirky, Lizzie is an unforgettable heroine. She contemplates the mystery of words and analyzes their origins, intuits the hidden natures—good or bad—of the people around her, solves a crime in her neighborhood, and tells us her story in a wonderfully forthright voice. Maxine Kumin’s portrayal of Lizzie’s life after a diving accident is at once unflinching and hopeful. Some things Lizzie lost will never come back, but her indomitable spirit will always keep her connected to the forces that nurture and protect the world. Lizzie! is a tough-minded and kind-hearted tale of adventure with a memorable cast of supporting characters.”—Kyoko Mori, author of Shizuko's Daughter

"I love Lizzie—the novel and the delightful, spirited girl at the heart of it. Like the sublime Maxine Kumin, she rivets the reader with her passion for language, adventure, and the natural world." 
Hilma Wolitzer, author of Introducing Shirley Braverman and Out of Love

“As a blind author and lover of literature, I have always wanted to read a story about a hero or heroine with a disability whose disability isn't central to the plot. Lizzie! is a wonderful read about just such a character. She happens to use a wheelchair, but the adventures in her life, and the places she finds herself have nothing to do with her disability, and she goes through life just like any other middle schooler. Any young reader who picks up this book will be educated and entertained, while also getting pulled into the unexpected twists and turns of Lizzie's first year in Miami Florida.”—Laurie Rubin, author of Do You Dream in Color?

School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Eleven-year-old Lizzie Peterlinz is not your typical tween. After slipping off a diving board two years earlier, Lizzie is paralyzed below the waist, but she doesn't let it stop her. Still adjusting to her recent move to Florida, she makes some unlikely friends: Josh, another kid in a wheelchair; Digger, a former police chief; and Digger's wife, Teresa. When her old friend, Tippy, comes to visit, the two girls go to the petting zoo. There they discover a shack full of screeching tamarin monkeys and a mysterious boy named Julio, whose uncle is illegally keeping the animals. In an attempt to bring the man to justice, the two girls investigate with the help of Digger, but the thief disappears with the monkeys. Will the trio be able to solve the case before it's too late? The pacing for this book is a little slow, but the story is unique. The information provided about the monkeys is presented naturally by the characters and is integrated nicely into the narrative. The sprinkling of Spanish words creates an engaging, informative text that enriches the storytelling. Although the climax feels a little rushed, readers will enjoy how the author turns the main character's dark moment into something positive. A nice selection for readers who like realistic fiction, animals, and mysteries.—Kira Moody, Whitmore Public Library, Salt Lake City, UT
Kirkus Reviews
Kumin's latest effort is hindered by its format; this fictional autobiography is as unpolished and disorganized as a real preteen's diary. At her friend Trippy's urging, 11-year-old Lizzie is excitedly writing her autobiography—beginning with her spinal-cord injury two years earlier and continuing through the minutiae of her life in Florida, which includes crushing on fellow wheelchair user Josh and discovering animal smugglers. With a penchant for Latin and condescension, precocious Lizzie resembles the eponymous narrator of Lisa Yee's Millicent Min, Girl Genius (2003) but, sadly, lacks her coherence. The book is largely a collection of declarative sentences rather than vivid scenes, skipping from dessert choices to Scrabble to detective work and even interrupting an abduction to define "penlight." Any adventure in the smuggling subplot fizzles under her (stereotyped) Hispanic friend's expository dialogue or Lizzie's obvious statements. ("But what he did next was really scary," Lizzie writes of the smuggler.) After yet another tangent, Lizzie writes, "This is the kind of thing that happens to me all the time where words are concerned, when I should be paying attention to the question." Readers looking for a tighter plot may wish that she had, indeed, paid attention. Readers would do better with Millicent Min or The One and Only Ivan (2012). (Fiction. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609805180
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press
  • Publication date: 4/29/2014
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,407,070
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Honored as America's poet laureate from 1981 to 1982, MAXINE KUMIN was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize as well as the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award. In addition to her seventeen poetry collections, novels, and essay collections for adults, she was the author of many children's books including Oh, Harry! illustrated by Barry Moser and Mites to Mastodons illustrated by Pam Zagarenski. Seven Stories Press is re-releasing four out-of-print children’s books for kids ages 5 to 8 that Kumin co-wrote with Anne Sexton: Eggs of Things and More Eggs of Things illustrated by Leonard Shortall and Joey and the Birthday Present and The Wizard's Tears illustrated by Evaline Ness. Before her death in early 2014, she and her husband lived on a farm in the Mink Hills of Warner, New Hampshire, for 40 years, where they raised horses and enjoyed the companionship of several rescued dogs.

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Read an Excerpt


"Lizzie stop! Stop Lizzie!” Those were the last words I heard before I did a cannonball off the diving board and slipped and split the back of my head open on the edge of the pool. I bled so much that the whole deep end turned pink. At least that’s what my best friend Trippy—short for Triple A—told me a week later when she came to see me in the hospital. Her real name is Ashley Anne Addington and she likes her nickname which by the way I thought up.

“I swear it Lizzie. Pink as a petunia. Here.”

Trippy is a major liar. She says she just exaggerates. If my whole body bled dry it wouldn’t turn the pool pink. The human body only contains ten pints of blood. And by the way I don’t like commas. They’re too curly all over the page so you’ll see I don’t use them very often.

She brought me a whole box of peanut brittle my favorite food. I wasn’t supposed to eat it because it gets stuck in my braces. But nothing like that mattered anymore. If I wanted ice cream for breakfast I could have it. That’s what made me cry but I never let anybody see me except a couple of times my mom. We both knew everything changed with that one cannonball off the bare board. They’d taken the old coconut matting off to replace it but they hadn’t put up a sign saying KEEP OFF. 
I don’t remember the ambulance ride or anything much about the whole rest of the day. When I came to I was in the hospital in the I See You which stands for Intensive Care Unit and my legs didn’t work at all. I couldn’t even feel them. 

That was two years ago. I miss the whole gang of us faculty brats who used to horse around the indoor pool. Most of all I missed Trippy but guess what? She just flew down to Florida to visit us. We live in a neat little cottage Mom bought this year once the lawsuit got settled. Trippy’s going to stay ten whole days over her winter break. Flying down here by herself the day after Christmas was her big present. For my big present I got this desk with extra-wide knee-holes I can roll my chair right into. That was all I needed to start writing my autobiography. Trippy read what I’ve written so far.

“You’ve got to put commas in, Lizzie. It’s too hard for the common everyday goon to read.”

is what Trippy always called our gang of girls. In a friendly way, though. As in, “Come on, all you goons, let’s go!” But I agreed, so from here on you’ll see a few more curlies here and there.

Lots of kids in northern Wisconsin are good swimmers. The winters are so long and cold that the indoor pool is a major playground. Our whole gang of girls could swim in deep water by the time we were four. My mom, a professor of psychology, did laps three times a week. Our favorite thing in the world was doing cannonballs. We always raced to be first off. To jump the highest. To jump the farthest.

Trippy said I need to explain why we live here in Florida now. It’s so that I will always be warm. People with spinal cord injuries usually have trouble regulating their body temps, and you can count me in on that. While I was still in the hospital I went downstairs to the rehab clinic every day. The PTs—that stands for physical therapists—were like my older sisters. Like my older sisters would have been if I hadn’t been an only child. My mom is what they call a single mother. My father was a sperm from a sperm bank in California that specializes in sperm from very intelligent men. And that’s probably why I’m in the eighth grade, even though I’m only eleven and a half. 

Anyway, the PTs were my cheerleaders egging me on. Every morning they got me out of bed and fitted me with braces. In the big treatment room I met kids who’d been in car crashes and fallen from ladders and off runaway horses. There we all were, trying to learn how to walk again. Or tie our shoes. Or fit the simplest pieces into a puzzle.

So what I figured out was it could have been a whole lot worse. My spinal cord wasn’t cut in two—severed is the word doctors use. It was “shocked,” but nobody could say if I would ever get any feeling back in my dead legs.

Even though she had plenty of other things to do, Trippy came to watch lots of afternoons. “Don’t mind me, I’m just here to kibitz,” she’d say, and they’d let her hang around.

The PTs worked my arms and legs. They strapped me to machines with timers that beeped when I’d done enough arm pulls and leg presses, but I can’t really feel what my legs are doing, so I just pushed as hard as I could. Trippy was there, kneeling down by the leg machine. “Come on, you old goon you, you can do two more,” she’d yell. She’d make me so mad that I did.

The PTs gave me rewards of balloons and sticks of gum as if I were a three-year-old. When I took my first step hanging onto the parallel bars without one of them holding me up by the belt tied around my waist, they whistled and cheered. I was holding on for dear life.

“Look at you, you old goon you! Hip hip! Three cheers!” Trippy yelled.

I was glad Trippy was there to see. That was a good day. I’m supposed to get upright every day and use my quad canes to take five steps. But I still need the wheelchair to go beyond the front door or back porch. 

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