Notes from a Liar and Her Dog

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Overview

Eleven-year-old Ant, stuck in a family that she does not like, copes by pretending that her "real" parents are coming to rescue her, by loving her dog Pistachio, by volunteering at the zoo, and by bending the truth and telling lies.

Eleven-year-old Ant, stuck in a family that she does not like, copes by pretending that her "real" parents are coming to rescue her, by loving her dog Pistachio, by volunteering at the zoo, and by ...

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Notes from a Liar and Her Dog

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Overview

Eleven-year-old Ant, stuck in a family that she does not like, copes by pretending that her "real" parents are coming to rescue her, by loving her dog Pistachio, by volunteering at the zoo, and by bending the truth and telling lies.

Eleven-year-old Ant, stuck in a family that she does not like, copes by pretending that her "real" parents are coming to rescue her, by loving her dog Pistachio, by volunteering at the zoo, and by bending the truth and telling lies.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Choldenko (MOONSTRUCK) vividly captures the feelings of a middle child torn between wanting to be noticed and wanting to be invisible, through the narration of sixth grader Ant (Antonia) MacPherson. And believes she was misplaced at birth. "Dear Real Mom, / this is what I would like to happen. I would like you and my real dad to come RIGHT NOW," she writes in the book she's keeping for her "real parents." She feels like the thorn between two roses, overshadowed by her sisters ("Your Highness Elizabeth" and "Katherine the Great") and misunderstood by her mother and father. She takes solace in the idea of a fantasy family, and in the company of her beloved dog Pistachio and quirky best friend Harrison (he's obsessed with chickens) as well as the nest of falsehoods she constructs for herself. Some have serious consequences, such as switching her stellar report cards with Harrison's lackluster ones, dodging vet bills and accidentally endangering herself and others while volunteering at the zoo.

A sympathetic art teacher Just Carol ("she always says "just call me Carol,"), glimpses the hurt behind Ant's misdeeds and steps in, but ultimately it's up to Ant to face some hard truths, take responsibility for her behavior and forge a fresh start with her family. Poignant passages belie Ant's tough exterior, as with her observations about her best friend, and her interaction with her father upon his return from a six-week business trip. This funny and touching novel portrays the tug-of-war within this strong heroine and taps into very real emotions.

Susan Dove Lempke
Gr. 5-8. Ant, short for Antonia, is keenly aware that her mother finds her deeply annoying and uncomfortable to be around. She is so different from her sisters, "Her Highness Elizabeth" and Katy, that she becomes convinced that she's adopted. The saving graces in her life are her Chihuahua, Pistachio, her friend Harrison (with whom she swaps her great grades for his terrible ones), and a teacher, who goes by Carol ("Just Carol" as Ant always calls her). Just Carol gets work in a zoo for Harrison and Ant, but when Ant smuggles Pistachio into the zoo, endangering herself and the animals, she almost loses Just Carol's support.

Choldenko catches the prickliness of adolescence, making Ant fearful and vulnerable as well as a sharp observer, particularly of adult frailities. As Ant eventually realizes, although Mother prefers the reflection of herself that she sees in her other two daughters, Ant is just as clearly her mother's offspring. Funny, moving, and completely believable, this is a fine first novel.
Booklist

Publishers Weekly
Misunderstood by her parents, a middle child torn between wanting to be noticed and wanting to be invisible takes solace in the idea of a fantasy family, and in the company of her dog and her quirky best friend. "This funny and touching novel portrays the tug-of-war within this strong heroine and taps into very real emotions," said PW. Ages 10-14. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From The Critics
Ant MacPherson has a perfectly good first name: Antonia. Her mother could never consider calling her anything else. "When I named you, you were the sweetest, most perfect little baby," her mother tells her. Then she sighs. She has compromise on her mind. Would Ant consider Tony as a possible nickname, instead? "Tony I could live with," Mrs. McPherson says. "Tony is kind of cute. How about Tony?" "My name is Ant," Ant says. It isn't easy to be oneself, especially if that self is scruffy, fiercely independent, and—when circumstances call for it—a liar. No doubt it would be easier to be soft and cute, like her sisters Elizabeth and Kate. Then Mrs. McPherson (who is not Ant's real mother, Ant tells everyone) would love Ant the way she does her other two daughters. But Ant is not one to take the easy way out. No, even though no one, Ant is sure, will ever rescue her or her beloved dog, Pistachio, she can survive. If Pistachio has to get to the vet, Ant will get him to the vet, even if it can only be accomplished by lying. If Pistachio has to get his heart pills on time, Ant will sneak him along to her volunteer job at the zoo, even if it brings trouble to Ant's best friend and to a teacher who has decided to reach out to the wary girl. Ant will protect that old, stiff, ripe-smelling dog even if she has to go inside of a lion's cage to do it. What are frustrated adults to do with this stubborn, lying, often bellicose youngster? Perhaps, they could prove Ant wrong in her assertion that the boy who cried wolf should never have expected anyone to help in the first place. A fresh-out-of-college teacher could keep pushing her way into Ant's life. A father could rethink his own career plans. And justonce, a mother could listen to her daughter's rebuff, and instead of saying "sometimes you make me so angry, I could tear my hair out," she could try a little smile. She could cover Ant's hand with her hand. "All right...Ant," she could say. 2001, G.P. Putnam Sons, 244 pages,
— Jane Kurtz
Children's Literature
The author's first work will delight readers with its humor and draw them into a kinship with Antonia, the misunderstood middle daughter of a stay-at-home mom and traveling dad. Her perspective on any given situation will be in contrast to those around her. Unfortunately, her skewed outlook appears to others as chronic lying. Downtrodden at home, she writes to her "real" parents in her journal; she doesn't believe that those living in her house are her birth family. By being "different" from her sisters, she has somewhat alienated both of her parents and siblings. Her steadfast devotion to a dog, friendship with the neighborhood geek, and intervention of a caring art teacher, help Ant to develop her own voice in interacting with her family. 2001, G.P. Putnam's Sons, $16.99. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Mary Sue Preissner
VOYA
Ant feels as though no one loves her or cares, a feeling that helps readers relate to her. I enjoyed the way the book was written and the characters. It was a funny story of self-discovery that really sparks the desire to think about your own life. The story makes you wonder about people and things and value them more. Most of all, it helps you feel better that you are not the only one trying to find yourself and understand others around you. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Putnam's, 244p, $18.99. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Jasmine Williamson, Teen Reviewer SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Author Gennifer Choldenko (Putnam, 2001) captures the thoughts and feelings of sixth grader Antonia (Ant) MacPherson, who has made lying a way of life. Ant can't believe she is part of the MacPherson family. Her exasperated mother nags and criticizes her endlessly. Her ballerina sisters are too perfect for words, winning their mother's affection with methods Ant abhors. Ant's dad moves from job to job, so the family must move from town to town.The most important people in Ant's life are her odd artist friend, Harrison, and a caring art teacher. When her lies spin out of control and hurt those she loves, Ant realizes she must make a change. Choldenko does not offer any easy answers, and the results are riveting. Narrator Ariadne Meyers does an excellent job conveying Ant's sarcasm and tenderness. Her flexible voice brings Choldenko's three dimensional characters to life, from the amusing haughtiness of Ant's sister Katherine the Great to the surprising vulnerability of her mother. Meyers is a versatile storyteller, ably conveying the tension of a mother/daughter confrontation as well as the love a young girl feels for her less-than-perfect pet. As Ant's lies accumulate and she feels the repercussions, the novel grows in power. Yet this is no sentimental melodrama. The story has its share of hilarity and gross-out moments (thanks to Ant's stint as a zoo volunteer). The entire production is first rate.-Brian E. Wilson, Oak Lawn Public Library, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sixth-grader Antonia "Ant" MacPherson, a difficult middle-child with "thick, straight dark hair and skin the color of a brown paper grocery bag," feels like an ugly duckling among her blond mother and sisters. She lies routinely to champion her tiny elderly dog, Pistachio, and her chicken-loving artist friend and classmate Harrison. Bright (she's selected to compete on her school's math team), funny, prickly, and defensive, Ant composes letters to her "real" parents and looks for an ally in Just Carol ("Not Ms. or Miss or Mrs. Anything"), the young art teacher who befriends Harrison and Ant. Ant has lived nearly two years in the California city of Sarah's Road, but frequent moves have left scars on the family. At 12, Ant nurtures a painful relationship with her mother, who seems to diminish and insult her almost unconsciously: "She sees a weed growing in the lawn and . . . she just can't stop herself from swooping down and snatching it out . . . I will always be a weed to her. I am all wrong." Just Carol takes Harrison and Ant to volunteer at the city's zoo, but Ant sabotages the day by concealing Pistachio in her jacket pocket so she can keep his medication on schedule. When the feisty dog escapes and tries to take on a lion, Carol-furious with Ant-lies about the uproar in the lion's enclosure to protect her volunteer job. Ant's loneliness and pain ring true but we don't get a complex sense of Ant's interior life, despite the first-person narrative. The convergence of plot points is disjointed; even a vigilant reader may be baffled about the timeline. A climactic return visit to the zoo (Pistachio nearly becomes lion-food again, and Ant puts herself in harm's way to save him)blunts the emotional impact of chapters near the end where Ant achieves a truce with her mother. Lots of ingredients but only moderately satisfying results. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807204993
  • Publisher: Listening Library, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 4 Cassettes
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.57 (w) x 6.99 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Gennifer Choldenko received a B.A. from Brandeis University, graduating cum laude with honors, and a B.F.A. in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design. Gennifer’s first picture book is titled Moonstruck: The True Story of the Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon. Reviewers called Moonstruck "hilarious" (School Library Journal), "hysterical, irreverent" (National Parenting Center), and "a giggle from beginning to end" (Publishers Weekly). Gennifer was the youngest in a family of four kids, where her nickname was "Snot-Nose." Her quirky sense of humor made its debut at the dinner table when Gennifer was a very little kid. After that, anything strange and funny became known as a Gennifer Joke.

Currently, she lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and their two children. When she is not writing, she likes to draw animals at the zoo, especially crocodiles and turtles because they lie perfectly still. Notes From a Liar and Her Dog is her first novel for children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

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(13)

4 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    What I expected as a children's book about a girl who complains

    What I expected as a children's book about a girl who complains too much ended up to be one of my favorite books I've evr read. Though Ant's narration sounds young and immature, the events inside the story were emotional and moving. This is the first book in so long in which I cried. Amazing read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 8, 2009

    Best Book Ever!!!! 1000000000 out of 10!!!

    A SPECTACULAR book by the lovely Gennifer Choldenko, This book is about a misunderstood 11 year old gal, Antonia MacPherson. She is so called "adopted" because her parents dont get her and her 2 prissy ballerina sisters always get the attention. She doens not have many friends, because she moves all the time and her dad can never find a perfect job. She has a wacky friend named Harrison, a crazy elderly pup named Pistachio, (sometimes called Tashi) and sorta likes her art teacher, "Just Carol". Near the end, something rather touching happens, as her and her mom finally communicate. This is probably the outcome of them planning to move to Conneticut in a week or two... .. But as the lovely Antonia and her mother finally communicate, they manage to stay in the awesome northern California. You will have to read to find out what happens. READ IT ITS THE BEST BOOK YOU WILL EVER READD!!! At first i was only reading it to get some points to up my reading grade, but I got hooked. You will too. Its funny, suspenseful, and touching. Even though shes a girl, I know how it feels because im 12. If you choose not to read it, your REALLY missing out. Gennifer Choldenko, if you are reading this, YOU WROTE A PRETTY FRICKEN AWESOME BOOK!!! Know matter what type of person you are, old, grumpy, depressed, or well adjusted, you will love this book!! Thanks alot for reading my review, dont forget to read the book if you havent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2008

    MUST READ

    This book was absolutely fantastic! Ant made me laugh because she says the funniest things, then she mad me cry at the end. It is a very satisfying book and I was really sad when I finished it. READ IT!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2008

    A reviewer

    I really enjoyed this book. Ant didn't quite feel she was part of her family so she lied 'and hoped' she had different parents. Throughout the book you are hoping Ant finds herself and a reason to understand her family and her family to understand her.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2007

    Awesome

    This book is so fabulous. this book was amazing.how she feels and gets treated is horrible. I know my mom would take her home

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2008

    Difficult to relate to

    Sometimes in thebook ant would make up horrible lies or do something really stupid and i found myself thinking 'how could anyone be so stupid'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2007

    the best

    this book is the best i've never read any book that can make me cry like this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2007

    this book rox

    i love this book, i read it when i was little and it will always be a great book to me

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2005

    AWESOME

    This book is funny and great. Although the character can have a pretty bad attitude. The main character can be wild and almost un-predictible. This book keeps you up all night figuring out why this happened or why that happened. This book is GREAT!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2005

    surprising

    When i first saw the book,i thought it was going to be really lame, but u know what they say, dont judge a book by its cover. and im glad i didnt because this book was really good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2004

    Great Book

    This is a great book i have read it over 10 times and it is so good. It is about a girl called Ant her real name is Atonia and her dog (which looks like her cat), Pistachio and Ant thinks that her family dosen't care about her and she was adopted (but she wasnn't). I really reccomend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2004

    Excelent

    Ant is a liar. She believes shes adopted and her 'real parents' will come to get her any day. she gradually finds that lying isn't always the easy way out.-

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2002

    Notes from a liar and her dog

    This book was great and i would recomend it to any one of the age of 10-13. This book is about a girl who lies and thinks up some crazy ideas with her friend harrison. If your ooking for a book to read during your lesure time this si the book for you!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2002

    Great book

    This book includes issues that i think every teen deals with, about family school and friends. i could relate to so much of it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2002

    Great Book

    This was a great book about a girl who feels that she was adopted and that her parents aren't really hers. She feels that her parents love her sister more. The ending was a little disappointing but I think it is a great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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