The cover illustration depicts a slimy green lizard hatching out of an egg. There's an alternative version of the cover, with the lizard having darker scales, a longer spike on its head.
Kate Lipton's family has some strange ideas. Her dad is convinced that their family should be running a farm for lizards. Who doesn't love lizards? The whole family takes a trip to Australia to find the most exciting and rare species. They return home with a mysterious egg.
Kate can't wait for the egg to hatch. It feels like it's taking forever! But when it does, strange things start to happen. She can't help but notice certain changes around her house. Will Kate and her family be able to survive this Lizard of Oz?
Kate Lipton thinks her parents are crazy. She feels like she’s the grown-up in the family since her parents are always pulling pranks on her and her ten-year-old brother, Freddy, leaving her to be the sensible one. The family lives in a town called Middle Village. Her parents’ latest idea was to quit their jobs and buy twelve miniature horses to form a petting zoo. Unfortunately, this idea wasn’t a success and the family was going broke, so they came up with a new idea: to buy lizards to form a lizard attraction zoo. The family goes to the Queens Park Wildlife Reserve in Queensland, Australia to buy lizards, and a man named Dr. Clegg shows them a very rare and unique Tasmanian cobra lizard. Before offering to sell them an egg, he claims the egg will hatch the lizard that he showed them. Dr. Clegg’s lab assistant, Miss Morris, warns Kate not to buy the egg, but her parents buy it anyway.
When they return to Middle Village, Kate shows pictures of the lizards in Australia and the egg to her science class. A girl named Adele Bender, who is always trying to turn everything into a competition between her and Kate, says that the egg is a fake. Kate invites Adele to come over to her house to prove to her that the egg isn’t fake. After getting scared by Kate’s father’s macaw, Screech, Adele wants to hold it to see if it’s actually a lizard egg. Kate agrees to let her hold it, but her hand slips when she takes it out of the glass case in the hatching room in her house. The egg cracks on the floor, but Kate’s father comes in and explains that he switched that egg with an egg from the fridge as a prank he was going to pull later.
Kate's father shows them the real egg and then sneezes while holding it, causing the egg to fall again and smash. Kate and her father are heartbroken and Adele leaves. While cleaning the mess the egg left, Kate feels the shell bounce in her hand and sees a tiny lizard that looks like a hairy bee. It bites Kate when she picks it up. She tells her dad about the lizard, he bandages her cut, and Kate, Freddy and their father go to see the lizard. He videos it while it eats a dead cricket.
Kate, Freddy and their father discuss what to name the lizard over dinner at Chicken Heaven and as they’re about to leave, Kate sees that the backs of her hands have crisscross lines on them like diamond shapes. Her father dismisses it as dry skin. Kate remembers that she’s supposed to be at school building a set for the school play and her father drops her off there. Kate shows the picture of the newly hatched lizard to everyone, but no one believes it’s a real lizard. Kate realizes that the strange diamond patterns she saw on her hands have gone all the way up both her arms.
The news reporters come over on Sunday to interview Kate and Freddy’s father about the lizard and as they’re talking, Kate eats two flies that come in through the front door. Freddy sees her and she brushes it off as a joke, though she’s horrified and confused by what she did. She eats another fly and decides to take a shower to get rid of the dry skin that she thinks caused the diamond patterns. After getting out of the shower, she sees that said patterns cover her shoulders now. Remembering something, she fishes a lizard skin purse her grandmother gave her from a drawer and to her horror, the marks on the purse match the marks on her body exactly. Then she sees a giant lizard on its hind legs in the hatching room.
She tries to tell her father, only to see that the giant lizard has disappeared. She tries to explain it to him, but then he has to leave to Toronto to pick up a lizard. When he leaves, she sees that her fingernails have turned sharp like lizard toenails. She tries to tell Freddy about the giant lizard, but he doesn’t believe her and mocks her. She tries to find it, but doesn’t.
The next day in science class, Adele suggests that the class bring in baby photos to make an Instagram album. After a volleyball game in Phys Ed, Kate starts crawling on all fours on the gym floor against her will and eats an insect. Adele sees her and videos it.
At home, Kate attacks Freddy, biting the back of his neck. Adele phones Kate, asking her to pick up her two brothers for their orthodontist appointment or she’ll share the video she took of her acting like a lizard online. Then she attacks the Tasmanian cobra lizard, consumed by anger. It bites her before running away. She goes after it and puts it back in its cage. Screech then attacks Kate, thinking she’s a lizard, but she distracts him with dead crickets.
Kate remembers Adele’s suggestion to bring in baby photos for class and decides to look for baby photos to take her mind off everything. She finds a couple of photo albums in a closet in a storage room. She flips through them in her parents’ bedroom. Freddy comes in and the two of them see photos of eggs with Kate’s name on the top and captions saying “almost there” and “can’t wait to see my baby”.
Just then, the giant lizard comes in before transforming into Kate and Freddy’s father. He explains that their family are part lizard part human shape-shifters whose lizard identity comes out when they turn twelve or thirteen. The lizard bite didn’t harm Kate at all.
Kate wails that Adele is going to put the video of her acting like a lizard on YouTube and then everyone will know that she’s a lizard. As a solution, the family invites Adele over for dinner and gives her a scare by transforming into their lizard forms in front of her. She deletes the video and rushes off. While the family wonders what they’ll have for dinner, they see two fat mice scamper over the pantry door.
The Lizard of Oz was altered in several ways between the time it was initially announced and the time it was released.
When the book was announced, it was simply called "Lizard of Oz". Eventually, the word "The" was added to the title. According to early synopses of the book, Kate's last name was originally Orton. In actual printings of the book, Kate's last name is Lipton. The cover art was also changed prior to release. On one version of the cover, the lizard's skin color was purple and green, it had a longer spike on its head, and the background was slightly darker.
- This title is a reference to the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz.
- This is the second book to reference The Wizard of Oz in the title. The first book was The Wizard of Ooze.
- This book also references PBS, SeaWorld, and Google.
- The alternative cover art (the cover with the darker lizard) was created after the final cover art (the cover with the light green lizard). It is unknown why the original art was chosen instead of the newer cover art.
- Kate's father is mentioned by name in this book: Barry Lipton. This is the second book in the Most Wanted series to have a father named Barry, the first being Dr. Maniac Will See You Now.
- The original book description differs from the final plot, as that version had the egg coming from a website. This is still the description on R.L. Stine's website.
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|#04 Frankenstein's Dog||#09 Here Comes the Shaggedy|
|#05 Dr. Maniac Will See You Now||#10 The Lizard of Oz|
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