Liar, Liar, Pants on Fireby Gordon Korman, JoAnn Adinolfi
Zoe is always making up wild stories. When something exciting really does happen to her--like an eagle nesting in her backyard--no one wants to believe her!
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThe third-grade narrator lies to make herself seem special--which only leads to more fibs. Ages 7-9. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Joan CarrisProbably a winner with young readers, Korman's story of Zoe Bent may not always delight adults. Its sit-com humor seems facile at times and much of its sophisticated dialogue sounds like hip teenagers rather than third-graders, but I repeat: Kids will enjoy reading this book. They'll identify with eight-year-old Zoe's yearning to be accepted and liked-a desire so strong she cannot resist lying. For Zoe, embroidering on life is natural, like breathing, so that now, by third grade, somebody's sure to holler, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" Trying to bring a bit of truth into one tale involves gluing sticks and twigs to her mother's wok and perching it in a tree to attract an eagle. But when a real eagle shows up, no one believes Zoe, just as no one believed that legendary boy who cried wolf. Eventually, a smart kid named Michael, who has always seen the real girl inside the desperate prevaricator, gives her the courage to be Zoe-the-truthteller. Although this is a "problem novel," kids will read right over the obvious moralizing and enjoy the story, as they always have. (In case you haven't done a recent re-read, you'll be amazed at all the messages in Little Women or Anne of Green Gables.)
School Library JournalGr 2-4In Korman's latest offering, the title's familiar childhood taunt is directed at Zoe Bent, the biggest liar in Mrs. Moore's third-grade class. Zoe feels as though she needs to invent a fantastic explanation for being late to school and claims to have an eagle's nest in her backyard to impress her classmates. Her lies inevitably lead to telling more lies to cover up earlier ones. As a result, no one believes her when she is telling the truth. With the help of a friend, Zoe eventually realizes that she has a special gifta great imagination. The message that everyone is special in their own way is a bit heavy-handed, but it is, nonetheless, a message that children cannot hear too often. Korman's language is colloquial and humorous. Zoe often makes exaggerated statements, such as "Principal's letters were automatic bad news. It was a law." Adinolfi's illustrations feature flat, often skewed perspectives and expressive, stylized figures that enhance the quality of the book.Robin L. Gibson, Muskingum County Library System, Zanesville, OH
Kirkus ReviewsZoe, worried that she is not special, has the bad habit of making up outrageous stories and trying to pass them off as the truth in order to make herself appear more interesting. Her constant lying has made her classmates, teacher, and parents suspicious of anything she says. Even when Zoe tells the truth, no one believes her except her devoted younger brother, Joey, and her kind friend, Michael, and even they are getting fed up. The didactic intent is hammered home with such force by Korman (Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road, 1994, etc.) that even readers who aren't paying attention will know they are being lectured. The messageslying is bad, imagination is good, everyone is specialare both cloying and obvious. In her odd and childlike black-and-white illustrations, Adinolfi is behind the most imaginative aspects of the book; Korman displays little affection for his main character and even less for the readers for whom this story is intended.
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