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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Excellent Book for the Middle School Crowd: "Liar & Spy" by Rebecca Stead.

Liar & Spy is an engaging book for young readers.  Written by Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead, it delivers good ideas about big issues, such as coping with changes in family life and the challenges of friendship, without sermonizing or being stilted.

The story is narrated by the book's protagonist, a 7th grader named Georges (the 's' is silent).  Georges lives in New York with his mom and dad.  Dad has lost his job.  Mom, a nurse, is now working extra shifts while dad tries to launch a new business.  Also as a result of their changed economic circumstances, Georges' family sells their house and move into an apartment.  One of Georges new neighbors is a boy his age, Safer.  Safer has a spy club which Georges joins and the two boys investigate a mysterious tenant in their building.  There is suspense with Georges and Safer's activities, but it is gentle and entertaining.

Although Georges faces many changes on the home front, he continues to attend his same school. At school he is a little shy, a little different, but smart and kind.  Accordingly, he is the target of bullies.  The development of his strategy to cope with the the bullies is a positive one.  As with Safer and spy club, Georges makes good choices in an appealing manner.

In fact, all of Liar & Spy is tremendously appealing.  The themes are interesting and the story is full of warmth, surprises and humor.  If you are looking for a good book for your middle school child, pick up Liar & Spy.

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