Monday, June 03, 2013

Liar and Spy

Liar & Spy  by Rebecca Stead

If you've read Stead's amazing When You Reach Me you know what a great, nuanced middle grade reader book she writes.  This one is no exception.  And, for the record, her books should appeal to readers way out of her intended age range.  I thoroughly enjoyed both books.  

In Liar & Spy we meet Georges, named after the artist responsible for this incredibly famous painting.  You know the one, made up of little teeny tiny dots. The one Ferris Bueller's friend Cameron pondered on their day off.  From a distance you see the grand scene of a Sunday picnic, but as you move closer and closer to the painting you can see that it is made up of little dots of paint all built up and crashing together, going from clarity to chaos.  

There's a lot of flux in Georges' life about now and he's feeling the chaos, but needs to find clarity.  His mom is never home, he's living in an apartment that isn't the home he knew and loved and he knows no one in the building. Sure, they are still near the old house, so he's going to the same school, but it's a lot of upheaval for a kid.  To make matters worse, his best friend  becomes popular and leaves him behind. 

Georges and his dad go down to the basement to take out the trash one day, soon after moving in, and notice a sign for a spy club that is meeting "today".  They notice that the sign has been there a long time, but Georges' dad writes on it, "what time?" to see what happens, and so the adventure begins. Georges' meets Candy, a young girl who lives in the building and her brothers Safer, who is Georges' age and Pigeon who is older.   Candy and Safer are home schooled by their artist mother.   Georges isn't sure what Safer's deal is, but finds himself being pulled into strange situations by the boy who never leaves the building. He does, however, know all of its ins and outs.  

At school,  Georges is on uncertain footing, but manages to make some great friends.  He gets made team captain for Capture the Flag in gym class and uses a different approach to picking his team.  The blue team goes on to win the game and their comaraderie and support doesn't stop there. 

At home, Georges hasn't seen his mom in ages, but they do leave each other messages with scrabble tiles on his desk.  The reader spends most of the book trying to piece together the spy mystery that Safer has dragged Georges into and the mystery of his missing mother.  

This is a book about friendship and adjustments to change and youthful adventure.  I really enjoyed it. The crazy cast of characters, the familial love and the friendships were sweet and fun to follow.  You could do a lot worse with an evening that breezing through this delightful book.  And, pass it on to any middle grade readers you know.  There's a lot they can learn from Georges and his friends.

There are quite a few nice little book trailers out there for this book, please go check out You Tube for the full selection. I'm posting the Winetka Library's review/book trailer.  Enjoy!

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