Monday, July 9, 2012

Rebecca Stead's Liar & Spy: Another Jewel in the Crown

Title:  Liar & Spy

Year Published:  Available August 7, 2012

Author:  Rebecca Stead

You May Know Her: As the author of the Newberry Award-Winning book When You Reach Me.

You May Find Her: At her website and on twitter at @rebstead.

Review You May Not Have Seen:  A review from the Katie on the Teens at the Arlington Public Library (TATAL) blog.
The Delta/Plus

Liar & Spy, Rebecca Stead's forthcoming work of middle grade fiction, takes place in a different borough from Stead's book previous work, When You Reach Me, but it is, just the same, like a love letter to her beloved New York.  

Georges, a seventh-grader, has just relocated with his father and mother to an apartment, not far from their former house.  Money is the issue, and Georges and his mother seem to pass like ships in the night as she works double shifts as a nurse at the hospital.  Soon Georges meets a fellow apartment-dweller, Safer, who enlists his help in a rather Rear Window-esque situation that involves a man in black and the lobby surveillance camera.

Weaving its way through the book is Georges relationship with his father, his mother, and kids of the wearing, bullying sort.  As the book continues, you realize that indeed Mr. X is the least of this book's mysteries, but that is classic Rebecca Stead.

Liar & Spy is a deceptively simple book, both in its length and in its lean prose.  This, I believe, is one of Rebecca Stead's great talents. But of course her books are extremely intricate, slowly revealing themselves, as the reader peels back the layers.

Many of my fifth graders picked up When You Reach Me after I glowingly book talked it to them three years ago (I had predicted it would win the Newbery - please, please, hold your applause).  This year, I plan to read Liar & Spy to my fifth grade lunch bunch.  I cannot wait to see the looks on their faces as they hang on every detail, find connections to their own lives, and as the book comes to its powerful, yet low-key (can that be?), conclusion.

Liar & Spy will take its place on my bookshelf next to When You Reach Me as a gem to be read again and again.

This book gets five out of five dog ears from me!

15 Second Sell in the Stacks
(This is when I'm in the stacks, a student shows me a book and says, "Have you read this, Ms. B.?"  I have about 15 seconds to "sell" it.)

"Liar & Spy is by my favorite author, Rebecca Stead.  This is a story about a boy names Georges who moves into a new apartment and is quickly recruited by a neighbor to join a spy club.  The two of them together try to get to the bottom of a mystery involving a suspicious-looking man in the building, named Mr. X.  All along, Georges is pretty lonely as his mom works long hours at the hospital and his dad tries to drum up some work after having lost his job.  Not to mention, the bullies at school play a mean game of dodge ball.  You'll love this book."

Thank you to Random House for providing me with a free ARC of Liar & Spy, no strings attached.
Imagination Designs