Thursday, February 28

Liar & Spy

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead, Wendy Lamb Books, 2012, 192 pp, ISBN: 0385737432
Things aren't going so hot for Georges (the "s" is silent). His dad just lost his job, forcing their family to move out of their house and into an apartment. His mom is working at the hospital almost 24 hours a day. And Dallas Llewellyn is doing everything he can to make Georges' life a nightmare at school.

But when Georges joins the Spy Club, things start to look up for the first time in months...

Rebecca Stead, my hat is off to you. When You Reach Me was pure genius. I laughed, I cried, you shocked me in the end. Liar and Spy followed almost the same trajectory. (Sidenote: Are you friends in real life with Esme Raji Codell? Because I just have a feeling you would love each other.)

Liar and Spy is really a very simple story, that pretty much every 4th, 5th, or 6th grader in America could relate to a some point: struggles at home + bullies at school = a very lonely time in life. It actually started a bit slowly for me, but quickly picked up with the introduction of characters like Safer, Candy (love!), and Bob English Who Draws. Although Liar and Spy lacked the time traveling magic of Stead's first novel, the resiliency and quirkiness of the Blue Team added their own special brand of magic.

And Rebecca Stead truly has a gift for the surprise ending. There are few things I love more than a story that is not predictable!

I've already started recommending Liar and Spy to anyone (teachers, parents, actual kids!) who work with kiddos in the 4th - 6th grade group. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a book I will read with my own son one day. 
**Just for the record, I listened to Liar and Spy via audiobook, and while I still clearly enjoyed it, I think the reader will gain more from the print version - Bob English Who Draws (and creatively spells) would agree.

BOB Prediction:
Liar and Spy is up against Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz in the first round. Now y'all know I am a big fan of Georges, but Splendors and Glooms just might be my most highly anticipated read of the remaining Contenders. I'm going to have to get back to you after I read it...

Quotable Quotes:
"Boredom is what happens to people who have no control over their minds." - Safer


  1. I loved Splendors and Glooms--I didn't think I would, but I did! I have yet to read Liar and Spy, but considering how much I adored "When You Reach Me," I have a feeling I am going to love it. I'm so pumped you're back and obviously tearing through books :)

  2. I didn't love this one. I think my expectations were too high. I was somehow expecting a cross between When You Reach Me and Rear Window (the Hitchcock movie).

    But I'm so glad you liked it. This is a great review.

  3. I can't I haven't read anything by this author yet! I need to read this and When You Reach Me. I'm so happy the book discusses tough issues that kids can relate to like bullying and struggles at home. I think that is awesome that you can see you reading this with your son when he gets older, just goes to show how incredible the book (and author!) are :)
    Thank you Katie!

  4. @Mary - I'm so excited for Splendors and Glooms!! Did you read Good Masters, Sweet Ladies? And have you met Laura Amy Schlitz??

    @Juju - I DO know what you mean - this was definitely no When You Reach Me! Even so, I loved it for different reasons :)

    @Katie - Yes! Rebecca Stead is wonderful! The two books are really pretty different. I hope you love at least one of them!

  5. You know I'm no expert on YA books, so I was wondering about the 4th-6th range. I know a few girls who are in 2nd or 3rd grade but read at a higher level. Would the content be appropriate? That's something I can never figure out at the bookstore.

  6. Kari! Hi! There's definitely nothing inappropriate in Liar & Spy - in fact, I would probably say that's there's (pretty much) never anything inappropriate in Middle Grade books - maybe younger kids just wouldn't get all of the jokes? One of the best characters in Liar & Spy - Candy! - is a 3rd grade girl, so that could be a fun connection!


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