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Liar & Spy Hardcover – August 7, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 177 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-Georges's life is turned upside down when his father loses his job, forcing his mother to take on extra nursing shifts and prompting the family to move from their house into an unfamiliar Brooklyn apartment. At school, Georges is a bit of an outcast, having been abandoned by his one and only friend and often the subject of bullies' taunts. Then he sees a sign advertising a Spy Club and meets Safer, a homeschooled loner who lives in his building, and Safer's warm, welcoming, and quirky family offers him respite from the stress at home. Together the boys track a mysterious building resident who Safer is sure is hiding a sinister secret. As the investigation progresses, Georges grows increasingly uncomfortable with Safer's actions. Stead has written a lovely, quiet, and layered novel that explores friendship in all its facets. She particularly examines truths, secrets, deceptions, and imagination and whether these can destroy or ultimately strengthen a friendship. The ending twists readers' entire perception of the events and creates a brilliant conclusion to an insightful novel.-Naphtali L. Faris, Missouri State Library, Jefferson Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


-School Library Journal Best of Children's Books 2012

-Publishers Weekly Best of Children's Books 2012

-Kirkus Reviews Best of Children's Books 2012

-The Wall Street Journals Best Children’s Books of 2012

-The Chicago Public Library Best of the Best 2012

-The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 2012 Blue Ribbons List

-One of The Atlantic Wire’s 25 favorite middle grade and young adult book covers of 2012

-The Horn Book’s Best of 2012 List

-Amazon’s Best of the Year, Middle Grade (#3)

-A New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2012

Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 2012:
“Readers will sympathize with Georges and Safer as they negotiate various familiar obstacles, but it’s the celebration that will leave them exultant.”

Starred Review, School Library Journal, September 2012:
“The ending twists readers’ entire perception of the events and creates a brilliant conclusion to an insightful novel.”

Starred Review, The Horn Book, September/October, 2012:
“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.”

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2012:
“Chock-full of fascinating characters and intelligent questions, this is as close to perfect as middle-grade novels come.”

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2012:
“[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”

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books; 1 edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385737432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385737432
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Stead is a gorgeous writer. That said, this novel is right in the zone for 6th/7th grade boy (and girl) readers, and will captivate them to the very end. Twists, turns, humor, and a subtle but deep reveal about two of the main characters all add up to a satisfying experience. I couldn't put it down; now it goes to my son.
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Format: Hardcover
Liar & Spy is another middle grade or young adult book covering the topics of friendship, school, and family. There are lots of them out there. We have a storyline about bullying, another about family issues, and a third that covers the dynamics of a friendship. This book is unique and has many winning moments. In the end, it was quite enjoyable.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House Children's Books for the review copy of this title.

I won't rehash the plot because I'm sure plenty of other reviewers will do that. What I will say to teachers and parents is this - Liar & Spy is not one of the traumatic, depressing stories being offered to young readers. 95% of this tale is calm and easy-going. Even the bullying scenes are light.

There are also excellent touches of detail. Candy, the knock knock boy, Safer's personality, and mysterious Mr. X - all fun touches that added vibrant color.

I'm slightly worried that young readers won't make it to the last 40% of this story. The ending is the best part. There are definite lulls in the storytelling. The concepts and messages are so subtle that they may be missed by some readers. Also the lingo and maturity of Georges' voice seemed a bit old. I found him to have a very experienced and wise personality. It seemed ill-fitting for a kid in middle school.

Why the four stars? In the end, Liar and Spy has a lot going for it. Once you read it through, you will finish with a couple ahh haa moments. It's touching, it covers serious subjects without being a cover-to-cover bummer, and in the end, leaves the reader feeling good. I just hope young readers don't give up before reaching that point.

Web resources give this title a Lexile Measurement of 670L.
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Format: Hardcover
It's no secret that Rebecca Stead's WHEN YOU REACH ME is one of my favorite books of the last five years, or possibly of all time. I've been eagerly awaiting LIAR & SPY, her new novel, and it turns out the wait was worth every agonizing minute. Although her latest may not possess the same complexity as its predecessor, it does share with her Newbery-winning favorite a sense of whimsy and playfulness, as well as a focus on relationships, both in families and between friends.

LIAR & SPY is a product of its time. Georges (named after the post-Impressionist artist Seurat) is sad about having to move from his family's beloved house in Brooklyn to a much smaller apartment nearby, after his architect father loses his job. He's staying in the same school district, but that's kind of a mixed blessing when some of the kids at school call him "Gorgeous" as a joke and, when they're not finding themselves merely clever, are outright mean to him. Georges' mom, a nurse, is never home; he knows that she needs to work double shifts at the hospital to earn extra money, but that doesn't make her absence any easier.

When Georges moves into the new apartment building, he is almost immediately drawn into the orbit of Safer, a charismatic home-schooled kid who starts up a Spy Club that Georges, thanks to his busybody day, winds up joining. Safer, it turns out, is obsessed with so-called Mr. X, a man who dresses all in black and is often seen carrying suitcases out of his apartment --- suitcases that Safer is convinced are used for some nefarious purpose.

As Georges finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into Safer's world, he is on some level comforted. It's nice to hang out with another kid his age who seems to enjoy his company and who will certainly never make fun of him for his name.
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By Lisa on August 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a great middle school novel about friendship and family and facing your fears. 7th-grader Georges (the S is silent) is great character, and I think a lot of kids will identify with him. He has great parents and doesn't always confide in them. He gets picked on by a particularly obnoxious bully at school but isn't at the bottom of the middle school social heap. He's good at some things and not others. He's not entirely sure why his former Jason now sits at the cool kids table.

There isn't much action in this story, but it's full of very believable thoughts and feelings and questions, and a good helping of humor. It should appeal to both boys and girls. Although Georges is in 7th grade, I think it could appeal to kids much younger -- maybe 3rd grade through 7th or 8th grade -- because the themes are really very universal. There's very little about budding attraction to the opposite sex, so I think younger kids would relate to Georges and his situation as easily as older kids. Also, I LOVED the Blue Team thread!

(Note: I received a free advance reading copy of this book from the publisher at an American Library Association Annual Conference. I was not required to write a positive review. Thank you, Random House!)
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