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Liar, Liar by Gary Paulsen
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Liar, Liar

by Gary Paulsen

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Recommended Ages: Gr. 6-8

Plot Summary: Kevin has never noticed Tina before, even though they've been going to school together since elementary school, but when he turns the corner of the hallway and sees her, he decides to make it his mission to become her boyfriend. His first attempt at conversation is an utter fail. His voice cracks when he can finally make a sound. JonPaul saves Kevin from the awkward situation, and starts to think about his plan. He figures he can use the same strategies he's learned from all of his reading of the military during war. To start, he puts his brother and sister in a huge fight by lying to each of them. His best friend isn't lending an ear to let him talk about it. He decides to take drastic actions and skip a few periods of the day when he isn't in the same class as her to do some research. He tells the gym teacher he is part of the school newspaper staff, the math teacher that he is an alternate for student council, and the art teacher that he is helping to paint the sets for the upcoming musical. At home, he listens to Auntie Buzz complain about owing the government a lot of money in taxes and not having the money to pay for it. At school he tells Katie he can't work on the group project because he has a made up disease. At student council, he befriends Connie, who is good friends with Tina, knowing he needs to get to the friends first. At home, he borrows Auntie Buzz's financial records, receipts, and checkbook and makes a plan to pay the money she owes. He also goes behind his mom's back and asks his dad, who is always out of town for business, if he can go to a concert. Will anyone discover the lies Kevin has told? Will Kevin ever make Tina his girlfriend? What is going on between Kevin's parents?

Setting: any school with lots of opportunities for involvement, big enough that the teachers don't all talk to each daily

Characters:
Kevin - 14 y/o, 8th grader, smart, tells himself school is too easy and by skipping classes it will be more of a challenge in a good way
JonPaul - Kevin's best friend, huge guy, athlete, germophobe and hypochrondriac, monopolizes the conversation to be about sports or illness
Katie Knowles - extremely smart, motivated, and in your face, assigned to work with Kevin on a group project, agrees to do the project and leave the editing to Kevin
Mr. Crosby - assigns students a project that will "illuminate some aspect of our government relevant to today's young citizen"
Tina Zabinski - don't know much about her other than the way she looks
Sarah - 16 y/o, Kevin's older sister, likes to shop, doesn't want to drive Kevin to school even though he owns part of the car because the schools don't start at the same time
Daniel - 15 y/o, Kevin's older brother, jealous that he doesn't have a license yet, doesn't really pay attention to details that people say
Auntie Buzz - owns a decorating business, lives above the garage, very type A, gives the three kids a car to share even though only one can drive and let's them deal with the consequences of the fighting and making it fair
Marky - neighbor kid who Kevin babysits for, wild and hyper, calls Kevin a funny name which, asks Kevin what divorce is and Kevin is the only person to give him an honest answer
Mrs. Steck - art teacher
Coach Gifford - gym teacher who was sorry the school newspaper didn't have more sports stories
Mr. Meyers - math teacher
Connie - Tina's best friend, on student council and very passionate about it, sits next to Kevin and convinces him to work together on a project, described as husky and a troll

Recurring Themes: school, first crush, lying, sibling rivalry, student council, after school activities, military strategies

Controversial Issues:
pg 3 crap
pg 17 "I heard her laught and my heart gave this crazy lurch, and my breathing did a stop-start thing, and I got sweaty, and did other stuff we learned about in Family Life, stuff that marks the moment a male's physical maturation begins. I've never been so glad to be carrying a math book."
pg 33 "Why do they sound like tiny demons from hell?"
pg 36 "I'd read Lady Chatterley's Lover (because I thought it was dirty, but I couldn't find the sex parts)"
pg 56 batcrap-crazy
pg 84 hell
pg 106 craptastic
pg 108 hell

Personal Thoughts:

Genre: Realistic fiction

Pacing: Medium-Fast, short book but more internal development than action
Characters: not enough time to be truly developed but reader knows one thing about them that defines them
Frame:
Storyline:

Activity: ( )
  pigeonlover | Jan 20, 2014 |
Ages 11-14.

According to eighth grader Kevin Spencer, “people who believe honesty is the best policy are just terrible liars.” Kevin knows that lying makes everything easier, and everyone happier--whether it’s teachers, family, or friends. But his mission to convince Tina Zabinski that he would make a terrific boyfriend suddenly has him wound up in more complicated lies than he has ever told before. The truth starts looking like the only way out. Kevin will need all his military history knowledge to help him strategize for a way to make things right.

Paulsen adroitly balances Kevin’s woes of middle school crushes, babysitting, and boring homework assignments with his heavier issues of a family that has grown apart and is struggling to reconnect.

Like many tweens and teens, Kevin has quite the ego. He narrates the numerous ways that he amazes himself, even as his well laid plans are crumbling around him. Kevin’s cluelessness is comedic; the grace with which he responds to his eventual humbling is impressive.

Kevin’s coming of age story is both believable and admirable. Paulsen avoids the trap of a preachy message by employing humor, irony, and introspection. Many middle school readers will recognize themselves in Kevin, and will eagerly turn the pages to find out how he will unstick himself from the zany web of lies he’s woven. Recommended. ( )
  Rachel.Seltz | Dec 11, 2013 |
This starts out as a "how to" manual and ends as a cautionary tale as main character, 14 y/o Kevin Spencer has to attempt to undo or make up for the trouble caused by his chronic lying. I like the way the story is resolved. The story is told in a first person narrative. I didn't care for the way teachers in this book were portrayed. ( )
  daatwood | Nov 21, 2013 |
Took me a little while to get into this book, but by chapter 3, I had the gist of it and began to enjoy it. I really appreciated the extensive vocabulary and it was because of this that I kept persevering in the early stages of reading. A typical schoolyard, first crush story with humour thrown in and embedded in all of this is a communcative dysfuntional family. Fourteen-year-old Kevin is very good at lying and doing so makes life easier. Kevin doesn't mean to make trouble when he lies. He's just really good at it. But as his lies pile up, he finds himself in big--and funny--trouble with his friends, family, and teachers. He's got to find a way to end his lying streak--forever, so he sets about making amends only to find that being honest doesn't make his life any easier. I liked the part where he decided to help his Aunt Buzz, really funny. ( )
  rata | Nov 18, 2013 |
I laughed my way through the entire book! Poor Kevin discovers girls while standing in his middle school hallway and life just isn't the same after that. Kevin is also an accomplished liar. But when he decides to make the girl of his dreams notice him, things go all wrong for once. You can't help but love Kevin, everything about him is so authentic, so genuinely teenage lovesick boy, you just anguish for him as his world falls apart. I also love the sibling rivalry - the arguments between he and his brother and sister brought me back to my childhood! Very cleverly written, and one I think everyone would enjoy. ( )
  mbklibrary | Aug 25, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385740018, Hardcover)

Kevin doesn't mean to make trouble when he lies. He's just really good at it, and it makes life so much easier. But as his lies pile up, he finds himself in big—and funny—trouble with his friends, family, and teachers. He's got to find a way to end his lying streak—forever.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:52 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Fourteen-year-old Kevin is very good at lying and doing so makes life easier, but when he finds himself in big trouble with his friends, family, and teachers, he must find a way to end his lies forever.

» see all 3 descriptions

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