blueiguana

Blue Iguana

Wendy Townsend

That night I do a pretty good job of sketching Billy’s face. He is like a dinosaur, alive here and now, so animated and yet so other. His eyes seem to ask, Who are you? I remember Joe when he was two and I was eleven. I toted him around on my hip. I loved the feel of his arms and legs clinging to me, and I loved feeling like I was protecting him. I’d imagine holding on tight and fighting off a wild dog.

By her junior year of high school, Clarice knows that her sensitivity to animals makes her different from other kids—and not necessarily in a good way. She hasn’t gotten her driver’s license because she worries about hitting frogs and turtles in the road. She causes a scene in biology class when the teacher is about to cut open a living frog. Even little kids can draw her wrath: she reacts swiftly and angrily when a playmate of her autistic brother, Joe, casually tears Joe’s pet millipede in two.

Then her school counselor suggests that Clarice do volunteer work for wildlife conservation over the summer. Online, she discovers BIRP, the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, and a few weeks later she is on her way to Grand Cayman Island to join fi eld biologists and volunteers at an iguana preserve. When catastrophe strikes, Clarice is forced to come to terms with cruelty beyond her worst imaginings—and fi nds a place for herself in the effort to protect an extraordinary, and extraordinarily vulnerable, species.


  • Ages: 11 and up
  • Grades: 5 and up
  • Pages: 178
  • Hardcover: $$18.95
  • Softcover: $$9.95
  • E-book: $8.95

Recent Reviews

Blue Iguana has it all: an appealing young protagonist, an exotic locale, beauty, suspense, drama, and unforgettable lizards. This wonderful book will resonate deeply with young people who despise cruelty and who want to make a difference in the world.

—Sy Montgomery, author of Kakopo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot, winner of the Robert F. Siebert Award, 2011.

Wendy Townsend (The Sundown Rule) convincingly portrays a high school student with a passion for all living things, who spends a life-changing summer caring for endangered blue iguanas on Grand Cayman Island. ...Give this absorbing read to any nature lover.

—Jennifer M. Brown, Shelf Awareness

Through tight, measured prose and well-paced plotting, Townsend skillfully tells the story of a highly sensitive and impassioned teen struggling to reconcile her credibly intense emotions with a need to make her way in life. Informative and well-researched details about blue iguanas are intellectually and emotionally compelling, bonding the reader to both the animals and to Clarice in her devotion. Clarice is a heroine of exceptional quality, a young woman who wades through her plaguing self-doubts and reaches the other side, recognizing her personal challenges but ultimately refusing to let them limit her. Her sensitivity is intense but not maudlin, while her dedication is honest and self-respecting; though she’s not immune to the hints of romance with a local marine biology student, her priorities are to help the iguanas as she figures out herself and her place in the world—and she does, in an ending that leaves the reader glad to know she’s out there. Give this to a fan of Schrefer’s Endangered (BCCB 1/13), an animal lover, or a sensitive soul looking to find her way.

—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, RECOMMENDED