Poetry Madness
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Interviews | March 17, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Peter Stark: The Powells.com Interview



Peter StarkIt's hard to believe that 200 years ago, the Pacific Northwest was one of the most remote and isolated regions in the world. In 1810, four years... Continue »
  1. $19.59 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$6.99
New Mass Market
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
25 Remote Warehouse Children's Young Adult- Social Issue Fiction

More copies of this ISBN

Liar & Spy

by

Liar & Spy Cover

ISBN13: 9780375850875
ISBN10: 0375850872
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Science Unit of Destiny

There's this totally false map of the human tongue. It's supposed to show where we taste different things, like salty on the side of the tongue, sweet in the front, bitter in the back. Some guy drew it a hundred years ago, and people have been forcing kids to memorize it ever since.

But it's wrong--all wrong. As in, not even the slightest bit right. It turns out that our taste buds are all alike, they can taste everything, and they're all over the place. Mr. Landau, seventh-grade science teacher, has unrolled a beaten-up poster of the ignorant tongue map, and he's explaining about how people have misunderstood the science of taste since the beginning of time.

Everyone in my class, even Bob English Who Draws, is paying attention today, because this is the first day of "How We Taste," also known as The Science Unit of Destiny. They all believe that sometime in the next ten school days, at least one person in the room is going to discover his or her own personal fate: true love or tragic death.

Yes, those are the only two choices.

Bob English Who Draws is really named Robert English. Back in fourth grade, our teacher, Ms. Diamatis, started calling him Bob English Who Draws because he was always zoning out and doodling with a superfine Sharpie. Ms. Diamatis would say, "Bob English Who Draws, can you please take us through the eights?" It was her job to make sure no one got out of fourth grade without lightning-fast multiplication skills. And everyone has called him that ever since.

While the rest of the class is hanging on every syllable that comes out of Mr. Landau's mouth, I'm looking at the false tongue poster and I'm kind of wishing it wasn't wrong. There's something nice about those thick black arrows: sour here, salty there, like there's a right place for everything. Instead of the total confusion the human tongue actually turns out to be.

People, People

It's Friday afternoon, last period. Gym. Ms. Warner and I have done our Friday high five. We do it every week, because I hate school and she hates work, and we both live for Friday.

We're playing volleyball, with an exclamation point. Ms. Warner has written it on the whiteboard outside the gym doors: Volleyball!

The combination of seeing that word and breathing the smell of the first floor, which is the smell of the cafeteria after lunch, creates some kind of echo in my head, like a faraway shout.

In the morning, the cafeteria smells fried and sweet, like fish sticks and cookies. But after lunch, it's different. There's more kid sweat and garbage mixed in, I guess. Or maybe it's just that, after lunch, the cafeteria doesn't have the smell of things to come. It's the smell of what has been.

Volleyball!

Ms. Warner is at the net with her hands on her knees, calling stuff out to kids and smiling like crazy. "Shazam!" she yells when Eliza Donan gives the ball a halfhearted bump with her forearm. "Sweet shot!"

If you didn't know Ms. Warner, you'd think there's no place she'd rather be. Maybe she's trying out my mom's famous theory that if you smile for no reason at all you will actually start to feel happy. Mom's always telling me to smile and hoping I'll turn into a smiley person, which, to be honest, is kind of annoying. But I know she's extra-sensitive about me ever since she and Dad made their big announcement that we had to sell our house. She even recorded a bunch of America's Funniest Home Videos for me to watch: my smile therapy.

I tell Mom to please save her miracle cures for the hospital. She's a nurse in the intensive-care ward, where she has to check on her patients every fifteen minutes. It's a hard habit to break, I guess, all that checking. I've been watching the shows, though, and they do make me laugh. How can you not laugh at America's Funniest Home Videos? All those wacky animals. All that falling down.

I count the number of rotations we have left in "Volleyball!" before it's my serve and then glance at the huge clock in its protective cage on the wall. I calculate a fifty-fifty chance that the dismissal bell will save me, but the next thing I know I'm in that back corner, balancing the ball on one palm and getting ready to slap it with the other.

Don't look at the ball.

Point your eyes where you want the ball to go.

But the advice in my head is useless, because time slows down until everyone's voices transform into something that sounds like underwater whale-singing.

Well, obviously "underwater," I tell myself. Where else are you going to find whales?

I should be paying attention to the ball.

Just as I'm about to smack it, I get this feeling, this premonition, that I'm going to land the ball at least somewhere on the other side of the net, maybe even in that big hole in the second row where Mandy and Gabe are being careful not to stand too close because they secretly like each other.

I'm wrong, though. The ball goes high, falls short, and hits the floor between the feet of Dallas Llewellyn, who is standing right in front of me. My serve is what is called an epic fail, and some of the girls start doing the slow clap.

Clap.

Pause.

Clap.

Pause.

Clap.

It's sarcastic clapping. You know that famous philosophical question "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Well, I have no idea, but it has to be better than the slow clap.

Ms. Warner is yelling "People! People!" like she always does when kids are mean and she has no idea what to do about it.

Dallas hands me the ball for my second try and I hit it right away, just to get it over with. This time it goes way left, out of bounds. Then the bell rings, kids fly in all directions, and the week is over.

Synopsis:

US

About the Author

REBECCA STEAD is the author of First Light and the Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Beverly B, August 4, 2013 (view all comments by Beverly B)
Liar & Spy looks like and begins like a simple realistic fiction story, but it is very complex and deals with some pretty deep themes. Rebecca Stead has a gift for creating events that are much more than they seem, characters that are more than they seem, and subtle themes that are important to middle grade readers. When Georges moves into an apartment building, his first friend is an odd boy his age named Safer. Georges is not sure what to make of the pushy, stubborn Safer, but since he has only one option for a close-by friend, he tries to overlook Safer's peculiarities and focus on Safer's confidence and sense of adventure - - Qualities Georges lacks, but admires. In less than 200 pages, Stead has the reader thinking about ways to deal with: change, awkward friendships, fear and bullying. Through Georges, Safer, and Safer's little sister, Candy, readers will do some pretty intense reflecting and hopefully gain some insight into how to be more confident. Stead also creates an original storyline with just enough suspense and humor to keep even the most reluctant reader engaged.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375850875
Author:
Stead, Rebecca
Publisher:
Yearling Books
Subject:
Situations / General
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction
Subject:
Children s Middle Readers-General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20130831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 4 up to 7
Language:
English
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
7.73 x 5.13 x 0.45 in 0.295 lb
Age Level:
from 9 up to 12

Other books you might like

  1. March (Book One)
    Used Trade Paper $10.50

Related Subjects

Children's » General
Children's » Middle Readers » General
Children's » Situations » General

Liar & Spy New Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.99 In Stock
Product details 192 pages Yearling Books - English 9780375850875 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , US
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.