Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Image from RebeccaSteadBooks.com
Wendy Lamb Books, 2012

When twelve year old Georges (the “s” is silent) moves into a new apartment his life changes and not just because his family had to sell the house he grew up in. His father is busy building his own business and his mother is picking up extra shifts as a nurse at the hospital. Georges endures constant bullying at school, but he tries to ignore it, reminding himself that his time in school is just a small dot in the impressionist painting that is his life. In the midst of all of this, Georges finds himself the newest and only recruit in a spy club, run by the enigmatic homeschooled twelve year old, Safer, and his younger sister, Candy. He finds himself keeping watch on the mysterious Mr. X, but as Safer demands more of Georges he begins to wonder if there really is a Mr. X. In this story of truth, lies, reality, and spying Georges learns about the complexities and joys of friendship.

Set in present day New York City, Stead’s story is equal parts mystery and philosophy. Written in first person, Georges’ voice is sensitive, observant, and informal. Although readers may realize Georges isn’t telling the whole truth, the book concludes with a twist that is both surprising and endearing.

Interested? Read an excerpt from the book.   

*Georges’ science class is studying taste and they discuss the five basic tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami. Bring in foods that represent each of the tastes and hold a taste test. Encourage kids to write a short description or a poem about their favorite taste.

*Georges is named after the French painter, Georges Seurat. Bring in a photograph of the painting that hangs in Georges living room, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Talk about pointillism and follow up by creating art in the style of Seurat.

*Other middle grade books about bullying:
Blubber by Judy Blume
Indigo’s Star by Hilary McKay

Harriet the Spy by Louise FitzHugh
The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

*More books by Rebecca Stead:

When You Reach Me (2010 Newbery Award Winner)

Age 9 + / Grade 4+ 


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