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Notes from a Liar and Her Dog Paperback – September 16, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Choldenko (Moonstruck) vividly captures the feelings of a middle child torn between wanting to be noticed and wanting to be invisible, through the narration of sixth grader Ant (Antonia) MacPherson. Ant believes she was misplaced at birth. "Dear Real Mom,/ This is what I would like to happen. I would like you and my real dad to come RIGHT NOW," she writes in the book she's keeping for her "real parents." She feels like the thorn between two roses, overshadowed by her sisters ("Your Highness Elizabeth" and "Katherine the Great") and misunderstood by her mother and father. She takes solace in the idea of a fantasy family, and in the company of her beloved dog Pistachio and quirky best friend Harrison (he's obsessed with chickens) as well as the nest of falsehoods she constructs for herself. Some have serious consequences, such as switching her stellar report cards with Harrison's lackluster ones, dodging vet bills and accidentally endangering herself and others while volunteering at the zoo. A sympathetic art teacher, Just Carol ("she always says, `Just call me Carol' "), glimpses the hurt behind Ant's misdeeds and steps in, but ultimately it's up to Ant to face some hard truths, take responsibility for her behavior and forge a fresh start with her family. Poignant passages belie Ant's tough exterior, as with her observations about her best friend, and her interaction with her father upon his return from a six-week business trip. This funny and touching novel portrays the tug-of-war within this strong heroine and taps into very real emotions. Ages 10-14.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Gr 6-8-This funny, touching story of 12-year-old Antonia MacPherson heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice in literature for young people. Ant has an unenviable position in her family, falling between two perfect sisters, Katherine the Great and Your Highness Elizabeth. She has a penchant for getting into trouble and driving her bewildered parents crazy. She copes by pretending that she is adopted and by lying. While she is starved for affirmation and aches for attention, her defensiveness and lack of trust often leave her misunderstood and sad. Then an interested art teacher takes her under her wing and insists on honesty and the truth. She introduces Ant and her friend Harrison to volunteering at the zoo, where the girl's lying gets her into some dangerous situations. In the novel's resolution, Ant and her mother finally talk, and they acknowledge that they share the blame for their difficulties. Her mother admits that she prefers the sisters who are less puzzling and less apt to be in trouble. In the end, Ant realizes that her mother loves her, that this is her real family. Choldenko has a wonderfully witty way with words. Her first-person narrative is humorous, tongue-in-cheek, and as irreverent as her independent heroine. For any kid who is a middle child, for kids who have trouble getting along with their parents, for kids who are sure that their parents prefer their siblings, this book will bring delight and understanding.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 0580 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (September 16, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142500682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142500682
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #417,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

With nearly 2 million books in print, School Library Journal has called Gennifer: "unsurpassed at interweaving plot with historical detail."Gennifer's Tales of Alcatraz trilogy is considered by Kirkus to be: "A cornerstone series in contemporary children's literature." Her novel Al Capone Does My Shirts received the Newbery Honor and nineteen other awards. It has been on the New York Times, Booksense and Publisher's Weekly bestseller lists and has been translated into more than eleven languages. Her newest novel: Chasing Secrets is due out in August. Gennifer is currently at work on two new novels. She lives with her loyal husband, irreverent daughter and naughty dog in the San Francisco Bay area.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on May 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
(If you are now checking out this book because of having read Gennifer's Newbery Honor book, AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS,you've made an excellent move. NOTES FROM A LIAR AND HER DOG made my Best of 2001 list and it was the best first novel I read that entire year. Having booktalked it (particularly to fifth and sixth graders)for the past four years now, I've had exceptionally positive feedback.)

At the conclusion of the first chapter of NOTES FROM A LIAR AND HER DOG, the Assistant Principal asks Ant (Antonia MacPherson) to relay the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf:

"I run my tongue over my teeth. 'Some kid pretended he saw a wolf a bunch of times, and everyone came to help him. Then when he really saw the wolf, they all thought he was kidding and they didn't come, and the wolf ate him.'

'That's right. And what do you think the boy learned?' Mr. Borgdorf asks.

'He didn't learn anything. He's dead.'

Mr. Borgdorf's eyes flash angry. His lips roll in. 'Fair enough. But why? What was the mistake he made?'

I blow my hair off my forehead and consider the question. 'He was stupid. He shouldn't have expected anyone to help in the first place. He should have handled the wolf by himself. That's what I would have done.' "

And that is what Ant is all about--taking matters into her own hands because she truly doesn't trust the adults and other kids in her life. She sees her mother as believing that she is wrong and/or lying, no matter what she does. Her younger sister (Katherine the Great) takes notes on Ant's misdeeds, while her older sister (Her Royal Highness Elizabeth) insists she's working on becoming a juvenile delinquent.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Movahedpour on August 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read Gennifer Choldenko's debut after reading her second book, 'Al Capone Does My Shirts'. I can say she just keeps improving. She has not forgotten what it is to be a child, and she writes in a way that young people can relate to, as well as their parents, who can remember what it felt like to be that awkward adolescent.

Antonia "Ant" McPherson is a sixth-grader, the middle child surrounded by two "perfect" siblings. Her father changes jobs at the slightest whim, and has moved the family all over the country. All three daughters finally feel comfortable in their present town, even Ant, who has attached herself to a fellow misfit, Harrison, who has a pet chicken. Ant feels unloved and ignored by her parents, and is convinced she is adopted. She even starts telling everyone she is adopted, and she is waiting for her "real" parents to arrive any day.

Ant hides her frustration behind a web of lies, which begin to bury her. She is befriended by the young, idealistic art teacher, "Just" Carol, who lets Ant and Harrison be volunteers at the zoo. Ant creates self-fulfilling prophecies by telling her parents she is failing, even though she is the best math student in school. It seems that Ant wants to keep lying to her parents and to everyone, to avoid having to do anything to fit in with her "perfect" siblings.

Choldenko writes in a very entertaining style, and her stories are not sugar-coated or patronizing. Nothing happens that is from a fantasy world, and the feelings are real. We feel empathy for Ant, but we also feel she needs to stop lying and take responsibility for her actions. It is true to life with great lessons, and Choldenko is definitely one of the best writers for children today.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Gunia VINE VOICE on February 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Developing strong, three-dimentional characters is definately a gift that the Good Lord has decided to bless Gennifer Choldenko with. I've encountered many "counter-culture" teens like the main character, Ant (short for Antonia), who have the nicest parents, but seem troubled. Their dress, actions and attitudes seem to shout, "I don't care." Rather than take the "I don't care" exterior and run with it, Choldenko writes in the first person from Ant's point-of-view, so that we can see the contrast between what Ant says and what Ant does; what Ant's goals and dreams are and how her actions (especially her constant lies and deceptions) prevent her from achieving those dreams. Choldenko goes a step further, however. She doesn't focus on Ant as the cause of, and solution to all of her problems. She shows how her family contributes to, her problems through a lack of meaningful communication. Far from being a down and negative book however, it is written with a rather light-hearted tone. Choldenko includes many scenes inteded to put a smile on your face (the interactions with Harrison, for instance) and will quickly switch to a confrontation between Ant and her family. The contrast serves to strengthen the different emotions.
I am seriously planning to assign this book to my sixth grade class to read. I think they'll like it and it looks like they'll be able to identify with many of Ant's problems/thoughts (thus, making for great discussions of the book). Unless I edit this review, assume that the book as assigned reading went VERY well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Cener on August 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Hi, I am a preteen who just read this book, Notes From a Liar and Her Dog, by Gennifer Choldenko. This is one of my favorite books and I couldn't put it down. So you are probably wondering why I only gave it 4 stars. This book is about a girl named Ant (a nickname for Antonia). She doesn't like her family and makes up a crazy story about how her "real parents" are going to come get Ant and her dog, Tashi (a nickname for Pistachio), the only "real" member of Ant's family. Ant is constantly getting in trouble, but when she's not, she's busy hanging out with her best and only friend, Harrison, going to the zoo to be a volunteer with Harrison and the art teacher, Just Carol, and participating in Math-A-Thons. There are some reasons why I only gave this book 4 stars, though. Number one, you can clearly see Ant loves her dog, Tashi, and her mother doesn't. So when Tashi gets sick, Ant takes him to the vet, without her mother's permission, and fills out a wrong address so they won't get billed. But later in the story, Ant's mother shows Ant's father a brochure about how old dogs don't like to go on long car trips, airplanes, etc. She tells Ant why she did this because she knew that if anything happened to Pistachio, Ant would never forgive her and her dad. What I don't get is how Ant's mother cares about the fact that Ant loves Tashi and she wouldn't want anything to happen to him, but when Ant wanted to take Tashi to the vet, Ant's mother said no. Another thing I didn't like about this book was when Ant brings Tashi to the zoo when she goes to be a Zoo Teen, I'm not going to give it away so I won't give full detail, something terrible happens to Tashi. Then, the next time Ant goes to the zoo, she brings Tashi and the same thing happens to him.Read more ›
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