Liar and Spy - by Rebecca Stead

A Book Report by Luke Newburn

CHARACTERS

Georges is a seventh grade boy in the middle of a hard time in his life. His dad was released from his architecture job and because of that, his mom has been working double shifts at the hospital. They also are moving to a small Brooklyn apartment and leaving the house he grew up in. His best friend has now made friends with the popular group of kids, and he's being picked on by the school bully. At the new apartment, he meets a friend who convinces George to help him spy on the upstairs neighbor. Georges is the main protagonist in the book.

Safer is the twelve year old boy who lives in the same apartment as Georges. He drinks a lot of coffee and has no other friends, so he takes on the hobby of spying. He makes Georges his first recruit to the spy club. He enjoys bossing Georges around and immediately begins teaching him how to be a spy. Safer is the second protagonist in the book.

Candy is the sister of Safer. She sometimes helps Safer and Georges with spying. Spying is not her main hobby. She loves to change clothes, eat candy, and watch the beautiful parrots nest across the street. Candy is a supporting character in the story.

Mr. X is the antagonist in the story. He is the mystery neighbor who lives above Georges. He wears a black hat, black shirt, and black pants and carries a big heavy suitcase. Georges, Safer, and Candy watch him through the apartment security cameras to try and figure out what he is hiding.

THEME

The theme that I think the author is trying to get across to the reader is to not judge any book by its cover and that you need to be honest with your friends. In the book, Mr. X was the "bad guy" and Georges and Safer were tracking him down to see what he was hiding in his heavy suitcases. In the end, Georges finds out that Mr. X is an ordinary person who goes on vacations a lot. Georges judged him by his cover and he thought he was truly an evil person. Also at the end of the book, Georges finds out that Safer knew Mr. X. Since Mr.X goes on vacations a bunch, Safer always feeds and walks his dogs. Safer was lying about Mr. X being a bad guy. Georges was mad about him lying and that is why we should always be honest to our friends.

SETTING

The setting of the book is present day Brooklyn, New York. Most of the action occurs in the apartment building Georges' family has moved to. It also takes place at the school Georges attends, the hospital where his mom works, and a local restaurant called Demarco's where Georges and his dad like to eat. The apartment building is the main setting that influences Georges. It has an effect on Georges by making him sad that he had to leave his house and room that his dad built for him. The apartment also has a big influence on him because he has moved from a house with a big yard to a small apartment where he doesn't have very much space. Instead of playing outside, he must find a good hobby. This hobby includes spying on his neighbor with his new found friend who lives in the apartment building.

CONFLICT AND PLOT

EXPOSITION

The book begins by introducing the main character Georges, his Mom and Dad, and his neighbors Safer and Candy. We also meet Georges' classmates including Dallas the school bully.

CONFLICT

I have identified two conflicts in this book. The first conflict is man versus man. I believe it is man versus man because he is trying to spy on the mysterious Mr. X who Georges can not figure out why he keeps bringing large and heavy suitcases into and out of the building. He has sent his good and newly found friend Safer into the his Mr. X’s house to see what he is up to. I also believe it is man versus self because he struggles with leaving his house that he grew up in and the nice room his dad made for him. He is also struggling with his mom having to work double shifts at the hospital because his dad got released from his job. The last topic is that his new friend who he thought was absolutely perfect lied to him about the whole spying business and it turned out he was just Mr. X's dog walker.

RISING ACTION

The rising action in this story would definitely be the spying on Mr. X because they are getting closer and closer to the climax. Eventually in the story, they get to the point where they need to sneak in to his apartment to find out the truth of why he is going back and fourth into and out of his apartment.

CLIMAX

I believe the climax in the book is when Georges really finds out the truth about the history between Mr. X and Safer. As it turns out, Safer knew that Mr. X wasn't a bad guy at all and he had been lying to Georges the entire time they were spying.

FALLING ACTION

The falling action is when Safer apologizes for lying to him and they become friends again.

RESOLUTION

The Mr. X conflict was resolved by him meeting Mr. X and he turns out to be a nice man. The man versus self conflict resolved when he made friends with the not as cool kids. The other man versus self conflict was resolved when he finally stopped pretending that his mom was not working at the hospital but she was actually sick.

RECOMMENDATION

I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it for many reasons. One was that the author used excellent writing geared towards kids my age. Another reason I enjoyed it was because the author used great description to multiple things in the story. I would recommend this book to another kid my age if they like action and suspense. Suspense in this book builds up exceptionally which leaves the reader guessing until the very end. In conclusion, this is a book that every kid my age must read.