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Summary and book reviews of Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Liar & Spy

by Rebecca Stead

Liar & Spy
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2012, 192 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2013, 192 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Megan Shaffer

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About this Book

Book Summary

Liar & Spy is an inspired, often-funny story about destiny, goofy brilliance, and courage. Like Stead's Newbery Medal-winning When You Reach Me, it will keep readers guessing until the end

When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

Liar & Spy is an inspired, often-funny story about destiny, goofy brilliance, and courage. Like Stead's Newbery Medal-winning When You Reach Me, it will keep readers guessing until the end.

Ages 9+

The Science Unit of Destiny

There's this totally false map of the human tongue. It's supposed to show where we taste different things, like salty on the side of the tongue, sweet in the front, bitter in the back. Some guy drew it a hundred years ago, and people have been forcing kids to memorize it ever since.

But it's wrong--all wrong. As in, not even the slightest bit right. It turns out that our taste buds are all alike, they can taste everything, and they're all over the place. Mr. Landau, seventh-grade science teacher, has unrolled a beaten-up poster of the ignorant tongue map, and he's explaining about how people have misunderstood the science of taste since the beginning of time.

Everyone in my class, even Bob English Who Draws, is paying attention today, because this is the first day of "How We Taste," also known as The Science Unit of Destiny. They all believe that sometime in the next ten school days, at least one person in the room is going to discover his or her ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

This contemporary mystery maintains Rebecca Stead's focus on exceptional characters, unique device, and tight, clever dialogue. There's much going on behind the scenes of Stead's book, and the Newbery Medal-winning author gives a nod to readers' intelligence as she deftly allows the plot to reveal. Whispered conversations and sideways glances add to the suspense, keeping readers riveted from the start.   (Reviewed by Megan Shaffer).

Full Review Members Only (567 words).

Media Reviews

Booklist

Fresh and funny, this will speak to many children trying to find their own way.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Chock-full of fascinating characters and intelligent questions, this is as close to perfect as middle-grade novels come.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. [A] big-hearted, delightfully quirky tale… Georges resolves his various issues in a way that's both ingenious and organic to the story… Original and winning.

School Library Journal

...[A] true Newberry contender... a clever departure from Stead's previous forays into science fiction.

The Horn Book

Starred Review. Stead’s spare and elegant prose, compassionate insight into the lives of young people, wry sense of humor, deft plotting, and ability to present complex ideas in an accessible and intriguing way make this much more than a mystery with a twist.

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Beyond the Book

Georges Seurat and Pointilism

The "Sir Ott" painting in which Georges takes so much comfort, is titled A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by French Pointillist painter Georges Pierre Seurat (Here's a pronunciation guide). Seurat was born in Paris in 1859 and is widely known for founding the Neo-Impressionistic art movement and use of the pointillist technique.

Pointillism, the term used with respect to the work of Seurat, is the practice of painting patterns of small, distinct dots of pure color next to each other. When seen from a distance, the dots fuse to form images. The pointillist technique focuses on small, individual brushwork strokes which the viewer can't differentiate when looking at from afar.

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is ...

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