New Thing #88: Liar & Spy

Liar_SpyI guess I've been doing more reading lately. It's also funny how some of these New Things come in waves.

For more than 80 days, no books...and then two in one week.

This one is called Liar & Spy, and it's a book for middle schoolers.

But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it.

And I did.

First, a word about the author. Her name is Rebecca Stead, and I became a fan a couple of years ago with a book called When You Reach Me, which is kind of science fiction-esque, with a great story that I won't say any more about because it's that good and I don't want to ruin any of it on you.

Liar & Spy is a much different book, but it has a similar amount of mystery that builds to a big reveal at the end.

And it's quite moving, which I didn't expect from this book.

I think I read about When You Reach Me in the New York Times Book Review, and sought it out on my own afterwards. It won the Newbery medal in 2010...I'm not sure if that was before or after I read it.

Funny thing about the Newbery Medal, now that I think about it. One time in elementary school we were given bookmarks that listed all of the Newbery Award-winning books. I went down the bookmark and crossed off the books I read. (I want to say this was in 1986 or so, because Sarah, Plain and Tall stands out in my mind. This memory made me go look up some of the books - here's a list of the award winners.) For those of you who know me well, this was probably one of the first times I had one of those all-to-common-now obsessive needs to cross things off a list.

If you're reading this and judging me for reading a lot of children's books you need to understand two things: 1) I'm a teacher, and this is part of my job, and 2) there are a lot of excellent, excellent children's books out now. It's incredible. I'm sure they're better now than when I was a child.

This book was an option for summer reading for students - I think it's too mature for the audience we were thinking about...but I'm glad I got to read it.

And it's interesting that I read it the same week I wrote about George Saunders' Tenth of December. Because here's the deal - I appreciate those short stories for what they are. But when it comes right down to it, maybe I'm better suited to children's stories. I like closure - I need my stories wrapped up in a neat bow.

Even if they do make me want to cry.