Cover image for Gypsy Rizka
Gypsy Rizka
Alexander, Lloyd.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Children's Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 195 pages ; 22 cm
Living alone in her wagon on the outskirts of a small town while waiting for her father's return, Rizka, a Gypsy and a trickster, exposes the ridiculous foibles of some of the townspeople.
Reading Level:
740 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.4 6.0 35637.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 7.2 11 Quiz: 21984 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


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X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Lloyd Alexander has won legions of fans with his terrific adventure stories that feature strong female characters. Alexander's work is also distinguished by its humor, impeccable writing, and subtle moral lessons.

Author Notes

Lloyd Alexander, January 30, 1924 - May 17, 2007 Born Lloyd Chudley Alexander on January 30, 1924, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Allan Audley and Edna Chudley Alexander, Lloyd knew from a young age that he wanted to write. He was reading by the time he was 3, and though he did poorly in school, at the age of fifteen, he announced that he wanted to become a writer. At the age of 19 in 1942, Alexander dropped out of the West Chester State Teachers College in Pennsylvania after only one term. In 1943, he attended Lafayette College in Easton, PA, before dropping out again and joining the United States Army during World War II. Alexander served in the Intelligence Department, stationed in Wales, and then went on to Counter-Intelligence in Paris, where he was promoted to Staff Sergeant. When the war ended in '45, Alexander applied to the Sorbonne, but returned to the States in '46, now married.

Alexander worked as an unpublished writer for seven years, accepting positions such as cartoonist, advertising copywriter, layout artist, and associate editor for a small magazine. Directly after the war, he had translated works for such artists as Jean Paul Sartre. In 1955, "And Let the Credit Go" was published, Alexander's first book which led to 10 years of writing for an adult audience. He wrote his first children's book in 1963, entitled "Time Cat," which led to a long career of writing for children and young adults.

Alexander is best known for his "Prydain Chronicles" which consist of "The Book of Three" in 1964, "The Black Cauldron" in 1965 which was a Newbery Honor Book, as well as an animated motion picture by Disney which appeared in 1985, "The Castle of Llyr" in 1966, "Taran Wanderer" in 1967, a School Library Journal's Best Book of the Year and "The High King" which won the Newberry Award. Many of his other books have also received awards, such as "The Fortune Tellers," which was a Boston Globe Horn Book Award winner. In 1986, Alexander won the Regina Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the Catholic Library Association. His titles have been translated into many languages including, Dutch, Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Serbo-Croation and Swedish.

He died on May 17, 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-7. Greater Dunitsa, a self-satisfied town run by a council more impressive for its ego than its wisdom, looks upon the girl Rizka with a certain disdain. Left alone by the death of her mother, a Dunitsa woman, and the disappearance of her father, a gypsy man, Rizka lives by her wits on the outskirts of town, hoping for her wandering father's return. Meanwhile, she becomes a catalyst for all that is good in the town and the instrument for making the foolish look ridiculous. In one memorable scene, Rizka disguises herself as a physician and informs the guillible chief councilor that he suffers from "chickophobia." She kindly undertakes to cure him by covering him with honey and telling him, "You must find your inner chicken. . . It would help if you clucked and tried to lay an egg." When the gypsies finally come, and she learns of her father's death, Rizka plans to leave with his people but finds that her ties to the townspeople are deeper and stronger than she had known. This episodic novel with its combination of broad humor and sly wit is a robust read. Rizka's unconventional style and her ability to make the authorities look silly will strike a chord with children who often have their own issues with authority figures. Another strong heroine in an entertaining yet thoughtful tale from Alexander, a master storyteller. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0525461213Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

This story of a sharp-witted street urchin, "rich with comic exaggeration and the folksy cadences of a tall tale, brings to mind the author's lighthearted Vesper Holly books rather than his more serious-minded Westmark trilogy," wrote PW. Ages 10-14. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Master storyteller Alexander has another winner in this story of Rizka, a young Gypsy living alone in her wagon on the outskirts of Greater Dunitsa while awaiting the return of her father. Her irrepressible and quick-witted style of helping the townspeople exposes their ridiculous foibles as she tricks them with ruses that create hilarious situations yet turn out for the best. Rizka has her finger in everything: runaway lovers; floods; magical caves; and the dreaded Zipple, a relentless breeze that drives the citizens a little crazy. While she evokes either adoration or aggravation in the town, at the book's conclusion, when the Gypsies finally return but with news of her father's death, Rizka learns the real meaning of family and community. Much in the novel is familiar in structure, characterization, style, and theme to previous works by Alexander: an imaginary land; an array of wonderfully exaggerated characters; events as a series of comic twists and turns; and humor that is farcical, satirical, tongue-in-cheek, and often derived from playing on words. But what is most quintessential Alexander is the creation of a strong heroine adept at triumphing by her wits. What is less familiar here is the plot. Gypsy Rizka reads like a series of vignettes, driven less by a strong story and a thematic wrestle between good and evil than earlier novels. Rizka is cut from the same cloth as the bright and brassy Mickle from the "Westmark" trilogy and the plucky star of the five titles in the "Vesper Holly" series. Fans will be delighted.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.