Introducing Two Books by Gary Paulsen:
Mary McKenna Siddals. (All opinions are my own and are not meant to reflect the opinions of the entire judging panel.)
Story: Kevin doesn't mean to make trouble when he lies. He's just really good at it, and it makes life so much easier. But as his lies pile up, he finds himself in big—and funny—trouble with his friends, family, and teachers. He's got to find a way to end his lying streak—forever.
Flat Broke: The Theory, Practice, and Destructive Properties of Greed
(Wendy Lamb Books, 2011) Nominated for the Cybils by Kristy.
Story: Kevin struggled to overcome his knack for lying in Liar, Liar, and now he's back for another round of mayhem and misunderstandings in this financial comedy of errors. In Kevin, Gary Paulsen has created an appealing teen boy character who is just as human and fallible as his readers.
The Mafioso's Take: Gary Paulsen could write a shopping list on the back of a brown paper bag, and I'd still pay good money to read it. He has incredible range--from Hatchet to Harris and Me--and these two slim volumes didn't disappoint.
The covers, however, might suggest they are for younger readers. They are not. Kevin, the MC, is an 8th-grader, besotted by The World's Most Beautiful Girl, Tina Zabinski. In order to show Tina he's date-worthy, Kevin concocts all kinds of schemes. In Liar, Liar it's all a web of lies. In Flat Broke, he starts a house-cleaning business, a baking business, and runs several poker games. Kevin's voice is exuberant, and he bases all his strategies on his reading of military campaigns and business books. Of course we readers know he's going to come a cropper, which is part of the fun.
Kevin has a family which is intact, yet flawed, and a best friend, JonPaul, who is a germaphobe jock (funny, even though it stretches credulity.) Kevin also babysits a four-year-old called Markie who calls Kevin "Dutchdeefuddy" which means "best most favorite buddy in the world forever." It's touches like this that make this an ultimately heart-warming series.
Highly recommended for 5th grade on up. (These would be great titles for reluctant boy readers in the middle grades, too.)
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