Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

author’s website                         No video book trailer found.

Summary: 7th grader Georges (silent S, named after artist Georges Seurat) is getting picked on at school, dad has recently lost his job, mom’s an absentee doing double shifts at the hospital. They have to sell their house and move into an apartment only a few blocks away in Brooklyn where Georges gets sucked into his new friend Safer’s Spy Club to determine whether another neighbor is evil. Friendship & family come together in this story so well.

Personal Reaction: Now this is getting tough – another one to nominate for SSYRA!
This book was expertly crafted as opposed to just being written. I love it when the climax pulls so many pieces of the story line together that it makes you dizzy. The LIE, the revelation to dad, the mom, the blue team… it was awesome. My favorite funny is p.74 stomping in slippers.

Curriculum or discussion topics: bullying, Science (sense of taste unit, bird watching), Home Ec (so many foods to make and describe!), PE (volleyball, Capture the Flag),  Art (color theory, Seurat, architecture, shabby chic, repurposing items) and Language Arts (the Science teacher has them write using taste sensory words, Scrabble tile messages, practical fortune cookie messages). Do I love this or what???

Connections to other books: NONFICTION – any books about art, esp. Georges Seurat and biographies will be great; kids cookbooks; books about your sense of taste, especially with microscope closeups of taste buds; PE/camp games to try with friends like Tag, Toss & Run: 40 Classic Lawn Games; spying & sleuthing skills, Morse Code & codebooks; the history of candy (any kind!), Wild Parrots In New York City; FICTION – for candy lovers The Candymakers by Mass, for Spies-in-Training NERDS by Buckley, for Benjamin Franklin trivia 39 clues Maze of Bones by Riordan…

Items to display with book: Scrabble tile message, blue Sharpie pen, silver flask, America’s Funniest Home Videos DVD, tongue chart (see link), binoculars, Naturalist’s notebook, fake dog poop or dog collar/leash, SPY CLUB sign, silver gum wrapper, small suitcase, baseball, old keyring with dozens of keys and/or little gold diary key, hospital scrubs

Food items connected to story: candies of any kind (esp. giant SweeTarts, lemonheads, Starburst, peanut M-n-M’s), coffee, all kinds of Chinese food (chicken & broccoli, sesame noodles, soups, scallion pancakes, and definitely fortune cookies), pretzels, peanut butter & banana on hot dog buns, pizza, Mallomars, scrambled eggs (with or without cheese), milkshakes, crusty mac-n-cheese

full disclosure: I received an ARC of this title as a Twitter prize, but was not compensated or asked to write a review for this book at all!

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