Zoe Norton Lodge (text) and Georgia Norton Lodge (illustrator), Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake (Elizabella #3), Walker Books Australia, April 2020, 224 pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760651855
Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake is the third book in the Elizabella series written by Zoë Norton Lodge and illustrated by her sister Georgia Norton Lodge. Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake tells the story of Bilby Creek Primary School’s Year 4 camp to Lizard Lake campsite where the motto is ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happpy’ (for copyright reasons). Told from the perspectives of Elizabella, her father, her pet lizard and her principal Mr Gobblefrump, this short novel aimed at young readers (aged 8+ years) is a humorous light read.
Elizabella and her best friend Minnie are beside themselves with excitement to be attending camp which is rumoured to be haunted. Run by maniacally happy camp counsellors, Lizard Lake camp includes an Opportunity Course (rather than an Obstacle Course), canyeses (instead of canoes) and a Think Very Hard About Your Opportunities Corner of the Happiest Room (unlike the Think Very Hard About What You’ve Done Corner back at school). Against this backdrop Elizabella and Minnie work to conceive their greatest prank of all time and instead end up solving the haunting of Lizard Lake, and helping the new girl to fit in. In complementary storylines Elizabella’s pet lizard, Larry and her principal experience the joys of self-discovery and finding where you fit.
Elizabella and the Haunting of Lizard Lake is a fun and funny story that manages to weave in several serious real-life issues such as the death of a parent, identity formation, and working through the challenges of friendship. Using some challenging vocabulary and cleverly including definitions this book would be good for younger readers in search of a challenging read and older readers in search of something light but meaningful.
Reviewed by Anne Varnes