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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Liar, Liar, written by Gary Paulsen. Wendy Lamb, Random House. 2011. $14.99 ages 12 and up

"It's not that I thought highly of myself, it's that I really am a great guy. I'd never thought about it before, but once I looked at the evidence, it was obvious.
And if by some small chance all of that didn't work, I'd fall back on what I do best - I would lie."

We are constantly looking for those books that will hook adolescents who are not sure that reading is what they want to do. If you can get them caught up in the humor and trouble created by a character like Kevin, you are on the right track.

I have always admired Gary Paulsen's writing. He seems to have his finger on the pulse of those readers, especially boys, who are looking for fun while exploring deeper issues of friendship, family and relationships. Kevin is a character who has learned to lie for many reasons... to make others feel good and to make sure that his life stays sweet and uncomplicated for himself. In this story, the lies take on a life of their own and it takes some hard work to sort them out.

You can't help but like him. He doesn't set out to hurt anyone. He is very bright and too often uses that intelligence to have things go his way. This time he wants a girl to notice him; he goes to great lengths to make that happen. He's funny and oozes charm. Paulsen convincingly creates a character with a great voice:

"Truth be told, as much as I liked looking at Tina and devoting all my time and energy during all my free hours to thinking about making her crazy about me, it was already Wednesday and I still hadn't come up with any brainstorms to get her to like me."

Kevin is clever, charming and clearly in big trouble by the time he has worked his magic. It takes some talking and apologies to get him out of the mess that he makes for himself. He learns a valuable lesson, and seems genuinely pleased with that.

Gary Paulsen leaves the door open for us to meet up with Kevin at some future time:

"The only thing is - I still haven't gotten the chance to make Tina see that I could be the world's greatest boyfriend. But I'm working on that...."

I look forward to it!

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