Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Liar and Spy

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

When Rebecca Stead gave us When You Reach Me a couple of years ago, I thought she’d reached her pinnacle. Who knew she had in her another great middle grade story? Liar & Spy is that story.   Little did Georges (the “s” is silent) know, when he got involved in the Spy Club, what an experience it would be.  He meets self-directedhome-schooled Safer, his sister, Candy, and brother Pigeon (all self-named) and spends serious amounts of his non-school time involved in stalking the notorious (according to Safer) Mr. X.  Before long, though, Safer demands more and more of Georges’ time and bravery, and Georges feels Safer’s losing his grip on reality and taking him down, too.  This is a wonderful book by a talented writer.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC STEAD)

GR Level N, Grades 3 and up

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

One Only Ivan

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

Last year’s Newbery Winner, The One and Only Ivan is the story of Ivan, a gorilla, Bob, a dog, and Stella, an aging elephant who reside at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, in cages (well, except for Bob.)  Life is pretty boring for the three, and Ivan spends much of his time remembering his life before capture, thinking about what he’s watched on TV, and his art.  Ivan’s crayon drawings are sold in the mall’s gift shop, and he spends time thinking about how to produce on paper the smell of a mango, that is, when he’s not eating his crayons.  Then, the mall acquires a young elephant, Ruby, and Stella, Bob, and Ivan decide their mission is now to make sure Ruby’s life isn’t spent at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall.   This story, based partly on a 1993 New York Times article the author read about the elephant housed at the B&I Shopping Mall in Tacoma, Washington.  Applegate, formerly known mostly for her Animorphs series, has penned a winner with this touching tale.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC APPLEGATE)

GR Level M, Grades 3 and up