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Liar, Liar: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Deception Hardcover – March 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

GARY PAULSEN is the distinguished author of many critically acclaimed books for young people, His most recent books are Lawn Boy Returns, Woods Runner, Notes from the Dog, Mudshark, Lawn Boy, Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day, The Time Hackers, and The Amazing Life of Birds (The Twenty Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leech).

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

A GOOD LIE FURTHERS YOUR AGENDA

By midmorning Monday, I had Katie Knowles believing that I suffer from a terrible disease. One that modern medicine doesn't recognize, can't identify and is powerless to treat.

I told her that I have chronic, degenerative, relapsing-remitting inflammobetigoitis. Which doesn't exist. I culled symptoms of mono, plantar warts, shingles, borderline personality disorder and a bladder infection, as well as listing a bunch of side effects from some TV ads for drugs.

Even for me, this was a whopper.

But I had to come down with whatchamacallit so that I wouldn't have to team up with Katie for the working-with-a-partner project in social studies this semester.

Cannot. Deal. With. Katie.

She's some sort of mechanized humanoid, made up of spare computer parts, all the leafy green vegetables that no one ever eats and thesaurus pages. We're only in eighth grade, but everyone knows she's already picked out her first three college choices, her probable major and potential minor and the focus of her eventual graduate studies. To Katie, middle school is a waste of time, so she takes more classes than she needs to and does extra credit the way the rest of us drink water. She's probably got enough credits already to graduate from high school.

The Friday before, we'd been assigned to be each other's partner for our social studies independent study project: a ten-page paper and an oral presentation in which we would "illuminate some aspect of our government relevant to today's young citizen."

Thanks, Mr. Crosby, way to narrow the scope.

We wouldn't have class for the next week so that we could go to the library or the computer lab to work on our projects. This was going to teach us about independence and self-determination. Or something like that; I wasn't really listening.

I really dig Mr. Crosby; he's pretty laid-back except when he starts talking about what he calls "government pork," and then he gets all wild and upset. I must have irked him somehow to get assigned to Katie. My best friend, JonPaul, and our buddy Jay D., who are the biggest troublemakers this side of a prison riot, were project partners, and even the Bang Girls (I call them that because they're BFFs who have identical haircuts with the exact same fringe hitting their eyeballs in a weird way that makes my eyes water if I look at them too long) had been paired. Before I could ask Crosby what I'd done to set him off, he'd announced, "Once partners are assigned, there will be no switching."

I am not a guy who gives in easily, so I spent the weekend thinking of ways to convince Crosby to change his mind, and avoiding Katie, even though she'd been calling, emailing, IM-ing and texting. It was only third period on Monday morning and already she'd left a couple of notes at my locker and had tracked me in the hall between classes.

"Kevin."

I flinched. Katie has one of those bossy yet whiny voices that make you want to stab pencils in your eardrums to make the noise stop. I turned and broke out a killer smile. I can always tell when it's time to crank up the charisma.

"Hey, Katie, I meant to--" I started, but she cut me off before I could come up with plausible and inoffensive reasons why I'd ignored her all weekend.

"It doesn't really matter." She flipped open her notebook and handed me a sheaf of papers. "I utilized the time by getting started on the initial research. You can see that I brainstormed about a dozen ideas we could examine that I believe to be unique and ripe for exploration. Why don't you take the packet home, read everything over, and then let me know by this time tomorrow, if not sooner, what you've decided? I'm okay with any choice you make, and we should, after all, be democratic about how this partnership functions, because of, you know, the class subject and all."

"Uh . . . yeah, right. I see that you, wow, you typed up--what's an abstract, again?"

"A brief summary and succinct explanation, the theoretical ideal, if you will, behind the project topic." She tapped her foot impatiently, probably wondering why I hadn't been writing abstracts since nursery school.

"Sure, that was what I was going to guess. You did an . . . abstract thingie . . . for all twelve ideas?"

"Of course"--she pushed her glasses a little higher on her nose--"because that kind of organization and attention to detail will enable us to make the best possible choice among our options. Besides, I'm sure I can put the seemingly superfluous work to good use in the form of extra-credit projects later in the year."

"Uh-huh."

"Like I said, why don't you take this home and--"

I cut her off. "No, I don't need to do that; let's pick number, um, seven. Yeah, that looks like a great idea."

"The analysis of data collected during the most recent national census about the underserved population and how they interact with and regard the government services structure, especially pertaining to the link between educational grants and future acts of public service?"

I really should have read her summaries, but it was too late. The analysis of the something census and how the something interacts with something as it pertains to something it was.

She beamed when I nodded, and I knew that I'd somehow chosen right even though I didn't know what the peewadden she was talking about, and I was sure, if I'd tried, really hard and for a very long time, I could not have come up with a more butt-numbing topic.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 940L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Kentucky Bluegrass Awards 2012 Master List Grades 6-8
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385740018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385740012
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gary Paulsen is one of the most honored writers of contemporary literature for young readers. He has written more than one hundred book for adults and young readers, and is the author of three Newberry Honor titles: Dogsong, Hatchet, and The Winter Room. He divides his time among Alaska, New Mexico, Minnesota, and the Pacific.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

(What's this?)
#47 in Books > Teens
#47 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on April 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Eighth-grader Kevin Spencer is a masterful liar. Lying is his second language --- a habit and a way of life. He's a good liar because he makes it easy for people to believe him, and he only tells others what he thinks they want to hear. Kevin believes his lying is done for the greater good and makes everyone's life better. Almost like it's his duty.

Kevin doesn't distinguish to whom he lies, except for most girls because he doesn't talk to them much. And the girls he does lie to really don't count. Then at school one day, on his way to lunch, he falls in love with Tina and decides to do whatever it takes to get her to notice him. But he has rules for telling lies. His first rule: "Keep it simple."

His lies to classmates, teachers, friends and family create feelings of betrayal. His big whopper to his social studies project teammate Katie, whose "bossy yet whiny voice makes you want to stab pencils in your eardrums to make the noise stop," causes extra work on their class assignment.

Lying isn't Kevin's only talent. He's also smart, fascinated with military history, and good with numbers. But lying is his passion. He believes a good lie begins with an element of truth, can support any plan, and has humor and style. At home, Kevin's manipulation of the truth creates arguments between his mom and dad as well as his sister Sarah and brother Daniel. His deceptions at school cause him to get into major trouble. When he sees that withholding the truth can lead to damage and worsen a family crisis, he realizes that a good lie can turn on you --- and a good lie requires a great apology.

Can Kevin change his ways, admit what he has done, and accept the consequences for his actions and behavior?
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Palin on August 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am an elementary librarian and am always looking for books that boys will devour. As an author, Paulsen fits that bill. The age range on this book was 8 and up, so I purchased it and its companion, Crush. An eighth grade boy is the main character, and although the books are funny and witty, with a good lesson to be learned, the content is too old for an 8-yr-old. Kevin needs to put a book in front of his pants when his dream girl walks by, for example. I believe the set is more for middle schoolers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Lee on March 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a mother who screens everything her 12-going-on-13-year-old daughter reads, I've enjoyed Gary Paulsen's works tremendously. His "Brian" series is probably some of the best books out there about surviving in the wild, along with Will Hobbs and Andrew Clement's "A Week in the Woods"; and his writing would certainly appeal to those who enjoy Avi, and John Flanagan. "Liar, Liar: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Greed", though, was a surprising detour from the serious tone of the "Brian" books and read more like something Gordan Korman would have written. (Interestingly, Gordan Korman also write a book titled "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire", which I haven't read.) The humour in "Liar, Liar" was tempered with a clear moral agenda, which I appreciated; and the emphasis on family and personal morality first, and friends and opinions of others after is timely and (for me, the adult) sobering. It's a book that will make you laugh, but not in the same way as "No Dead Dogs" by Gordan Korman, for example. All in all, Gary Paulsen is a writer I would not feel a need to "screen" - I actually read his books because I, too, really enjoy his work! Said daughter's take on the book follows:

"The book, `Liar, Liar: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Greed' by Gary Paulsen, author of `Hatchet', is a fantastic book about one boy's discovery that honesty really is the best policy - and that telling the truth isn't the end of the world.

"Kevin has a big talent. Some might call it compulsive lying. He calls it common sense. But then he falls in love with his classmate Tina. Soon, Kevin's, ummm, falsehoods, spiral out of control as he tries to convince Tina that he is the perfect boyfriend for her.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne C. on September 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gary Paulsen does it again. He spins a yarn in the first person and makes you part of the story... a really, good story, too. I loved it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shelly on November 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another well written book by Gary Paulson with a message for both teenagers and their parents. First of all - for teenagers- lying, although appealing in short run, can have severe consequences. Telling the truth is generally the best policy. Second of all - for the parents- teenagers do lie-even or especially, the really smart ones. My husband and I are on our last round of high school with the youngest of our four children, and I wish that I had read this before the oldest towering to high school. This book is writ tree encounter from the perspective of an eight grade boy, and I do think the procuring a girl friend issues are a bit too mature for 5th graders. However, parents, if you have a 5th grade student, read this book now! Perhaps I would not have been so gullible if I had!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Samantha McManus on June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Once again, Gary Paulsen proves he knows his readers and can capture their voice. Meet Kevin, the best liar ever. Kevin says he lies because it makes life easy and makes people happy. Of course it isn't long before Kevin's many lies and complications cause trouble for him and he figures out that he has to fix the mess he's made. As he moves from consummate liar to asking for forgiveness for the trouble he's caused, Kevin learns that while lies may keep some people happy,only the truth builds families and friendships. An entertaining, quick read with a great message for grades 5 and up.
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