Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Fourteen-year-old Kevin Spencer has a way of spinning lies too easily. He claims he tells people like parents, teachers, and friends what they want to hear and what he tells is for the greater good of everyone. One day in the school hallway, cupid's arrow strikes Kevin's heart. Although he has known Tina since preschool days, Kevin sees Tina from a new perspective. Project Tina begins as Kevin tries to find ways to convince Tina that he is the perfect boyfriend for her. He plans his intricate maneuvers. Kevin spins the falsehoods in creative ways to be with Tina and to bedazzle her with his charms. He finds ways to collect hall passes so that he can free up time to see Tina. It is not long before the lies catch up with the liar and Kevin finds himself tangled in a huge mess. Plus, there is a subplot of events happening in the Spencer household. Fans of Paulsen's stories will most likely enjoy the fun and humor in this story about Kevin and his predicament. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Kevin, 14, believes that lying is just good manners. He tells people what they want to hear and believes that in doing so he makes their lives run smoother, fosters harmony, teaches lessons, and, every once in a while, gets his own way. With all his practice, the eighth grader has become a consummate liar. When Kevin decides to leap from minor fibs to huge whoppers, he finds that keeping things under control is exceedingly difficult. His goal to make his crush fall in love with him by the end of the week gets more arduous with every mammoth falsehood. As his fabrications spread and begin to hurt his friends and loved ones, Kevin has to decide how to come clean. Kevin is a typical Paulsen character with a good heart and good intentions, who just doesn't get things right on the first try. This quick, comical tale is sure to be a hit. As usual, the author plants a moral at the conclusion, but readers won't mind because of the funny plot and over-the-top characters. A sure bet for struggling and reluctant readers.—Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix Public Library, AZ
"I'm the best liar you'll ever meet," announces the glib narrator of this funny and touching novel. Fourteen-year-old Kevin inventively bends the truth to his advantage—or so he thinks. He convinces his partner on a school project that he suffers from "chronic, degenerative, relapsing-remitting imflammobetigoitis" so that she'll do all the work, pits his older siblings against each other, and surreptitiously asks his father's permission to go to a concert after his mother says no. When Kevin falls madly in love with a classmate and decides that he needs more free time to win her over, he fabricates elaborate excuses for skipping classes and feigns interest in student government to try to wiggle his way into her "inner circle" ("Like any good military mind, I decided that a direct assault was the wrong move"). In an affecting scene, the four-year-old who Kevin babysits awakens him to the value of telling the truth, setting him on a quest to untangle the web he has woven. Kevin's grappling with family troubles adds further emotional dimension to Paulsen's novel. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)
Eighth grader Kevin has a talent most adults can't fully appreciate: He's a gifted liar. He tells adults what they want to hear, that he's done his homework, had a great day at school and there aren't any dirty dishes in his room. Unfortunately, faced with a team project with a very focused, annoying classmate, he lets the lies get away from him. To avoid working with Katie, he tells her he has a severe chronic illness. In order to get closer to his major crush, Tina, he begins to skip classes, providing teachers with creative (but surely unbelievable) excuses. On a roll, he hits a little closer to home, playing his teen siblings off each other, then inadvertently widening the gap in his parents' relationship by lying to both of them. Each lie encourages another until, finally, the truth comes out and Kevin must face the consequences of his creative storytelling. This brief, humorous effort will appeal to reluctant middle-school readers, who will recognize the truth behind witty Kevin's inventive deceptions. (Fiction. 9-12)
Read an Excerpt
A GOOD LIE FURTHERS YOUR AGENDA
By midmorning Monday, I had Katie Knowles believing that I suffer from a terrible disease. One that modern medicine doesn't recognize, can't identify and is powerless to treat.
I told her that I have chronic, degenerative, relapsing-remitting inflammobetigoitis. Which doesn't exist. I culled symptoms of mono, plantar warts, shingles, borderline personality disorder and a bladder infection, as well as listing a bunch of side effects from some TV ads for drugs.
Even for me, this was a whopper.
But I had to come down with whatchamacallit so that I wouldn't have to team up with Katie for the working-with-a-partner project in social studies this semester.
Cannot. Deal. With. Katie.
She's some sort of mechanized humanoid, made up of spare computer parts, all the leafy green vegetables that no one ever eats and thesaurus pages. We're only in eighth grade, but everyone knows she's already picked out her first three college choices, her probable major and potential minor and the focus of her eventual graduate studies. To Katie, middle school is a waste of time, so she takes more classes than she needs to and does extra credit the way the rest of us drink water. She's probably got enough credits already to graduate from high school.
The Friday before, we'd been assigned to be each other's partner for our social studies independent study project: a ten-page paper and an oral presentation in which we would "illuminate some aspect of our government relevant to today's young citizen."
Thanks, Mr. Crosby, way to narrow the scope.
We wouldn't have class for the next week so that we could go to the library or the computer lab to work on our projects. This was going to teach us about independence and self-determination. Or something like that; I wasn't really listening.
I really dig Mr. Crosby; he's pretty laid-back except when he starts talking about what he calls "government pork," and then he gets all wild and upset. I must have irked him somehow to get assigned to Katie. My best friend, JonPaul, and our buddy Jay D., who are the biggest troublemakers this side of a prison riot, were project partners, and even the Bang Girls (I call them that because they're BFFs who have identical haircuts with the exact same fringe hitting their eyeballs in a weird way that makes my eyes water if I look at them too long) had been paired. Before I could ask Crosby what I'd done to set him off, he'd announced, "Once partners are assigned, there will be no switching."
I am not a guy who gives in easily, so I spent the weekend thinking of ways to convince Crosby to change his mind, and avoiding Katie, even though she'd been calling, emailing, IM-ing and texting. It was only third period on Monday morning and already she'd left a couple of notes at my locker and had tracked me in the hall between classes.
I flinched. Katie has one of those bossy yet whiny voices that make you want to stab pencils in your eardrums to make the noise stop. I turned and broke out a killer smile. I can always tell when it's time to crank up the charisma.
"Hey, Katie, I meant to--" I started, but she cut me off before I could come up with plausible and inoffensive reasons why I'd ignored her all weekend.
"It doesn't really matter." She flipped open her notebook and handed me a sheaf of papers. "I utilized the time by getting started on the initial research. You can see that I brainstormed about a dozen ideas we could examine that I believe to be unique and ripe for exploration. Why don't you take the packet home, read everything over, and then let me know by this time tomorrow, if not sooner, what you've decided? I'm okay with any choice you make, and we should, after all, be democratic about how this partnership functions, because of, you know, the class subject and all."
"Uh . . . yeah, right. I see that you, wow, you typed up--what's an abstract, again?"
"A brief summary and succinct explanation, the theoretical ideal, if you will, behind the project topic." She tapped her foot impatiently, probably wondering why I hadn't been writing abstracts since nursery school.
"Sure, that was what I was going to guess. You did an . . . abstract thingie . . . for all twelve ideas?"
"Of course"--she pushed her glasses a little higher on her nose--"because that kind of organization and attention to detail will enable us to make the best possible choice among our options. Besides, I'm sure I can put the seemingly superfluous work to good use in the form of extra-credit projects later in the year."
"Like I said, why don't you take this home and--"
I cut her off. "No, I don't need to do that; let's pick number, um, seven. Yeah, that looks like a great idea."
"The analysis of data collected during the most recent national census about the underserved population and how they interact with and regard the government services structure, especially pertaining to the link between educational grants and future acts of public service?"
I really should have read her summaries, but it was too late. The analysis of the something census and how the something interacts with something as it pertains to something it was.
She beamed when I nodded, and I knew that I'd somehow chosen right even though I didn't know what the peewadden she was talking about, and I was sure, if I'd tried, really hard and for a very long time, I could not have come up with a more butt-numbing topic.
From the Hardcover edition.