Monday, 16 June 2014

‘Liar & Spy’ by Rebecca Stead - Carnegie review

This is a deceptively short and simple tale of the new friends Georges make when he has to move home. But it is actually a clever and sophisticated piece of storytelling in that most of the intrigue of the tale is in what is left unsaid, rather than what appears on the page.

When Georges moves house he makes friends with Safer, who live upstairs. Safer is homeschooled and is getting interested in the mysterious activities of one of the other residents of the apartments.

Georges gets drawn into Safer’s schemes, but things start to unravel as Safer starts to put greater demands on this new friendship in this this quirky, original story.

Books for children are often very plot-driven, with straightforward storylines, but in very few words, Rebecca Stead weaves several plotlines and plays with the reader’s understanding of what is going on.

Georges is a complex character, dealing with difficulties at home and at school. Rebecca Stead subtly plays with perspective on some of the power struggles that go on in children’s relationships and it is only as things are slowly revealed that the reader can understand

It’s a great story about standing up for ourselves. Why do we let the bullies make up the rules and why do we play them, is the central question of this really delightful and intriguing tale which is never short on surprises.

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