Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and Other Wily Characters

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Side-splittingly funny, spine-chillingly spooky, this companion to a Newbery Honor–winning anthology The Dark Thirty is filled with bad characters who know exactly how to charm.

From the author's note that takes us back to McKissack's own childhood when she would listen to stories told on her front porch... to the captivating introductions to each tale, in which the storyteller introduces himself and sets the stage for what follows... to the ten entertaining tales themselves, ...

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Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and Other Wily Characters

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Side-splittingly funny, spine-chillingly spooky, this companion to a Newbery Honor–winning anthology The Dark Thirty is filled with bad characters who know exactly how to charm.

From the author's note that takes us back to McKissack's own childhood when she would listen to stories told on her front porch... to the captivating introductions to each tale, in which the storyteller introduces himself and sets the stage for what follows... to the ten entertaining tales themselves, here is a worthy successor to McKissack's The Dark Thirty. In "The Best Lie Ever Told," meet Dooley Hunter, a trickster who spins an enormous whopper at the State Liar's contest. In "Aunt Gran and the Outlaws," watch a little old lady slickster outsmart Frank and Jesse James. And in "Cake Norris Lives On," come face to face with a man some folks believe may have died up to twenty-seven different times!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Booklist starred review
Horn Book Magazine starred review
Publishers Weekly starred review
Publishers Weekly
As McKissack (The Dark-Thirty) opens this treasure chest of tales, she recalls spending summer evenings on her grandparents' front porch in Nashville, where her grandfather and visitors would share spellbinding "porch lies," comically exaggerated stories that often centered on rogues and rascals. The author then presents her own variations on such yarns, "expand[ing] the myths, legends, and historical figures who often appear in the African American oral tradition" to create a sparkling array of porch lies, brimming with beguiling tricksters. McKissack sets the domestic scene for each by describing the porch visitor who first related the tale. A standout features wise, sassy Aunt Gran, who outsmarts Frank and Jesse James, manipulating the bandits into running out of town the racist villain who salted her well in hopes of procuring her property. Other memorable characters include the conniving used-car salesman who is brought to judgment quite humorously on the eve of his wedding; the truth-twisting fellow who wins the liars' contest at the state fair with the line, "I aine never told a lie before"; and a famous blues harmonica player, who wreaks such havoc in the holding station en route to heaven-or the alternative-that he's sent back to earth. Aunt Gran, slyly telling the James brothers a tale that will convince them to help her, notes, "Some folk believe the story; some don't. You decide for yourself." Readers of these spry tall tales will have a grand time doing just that. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
The author has written a reminiscence of her younger days in Nashville, Tennessee, enjoying the "tall tales" of her grandfather and other occasional visitors to his front porch. Young children often take literally those humorous or scary tales told by adults, and they obviously remained large in the author's memory. While the nine short tales included are purely fictional and embellished upon from the originals, they provide a comforting look back at a time in African American life when the oral tradition loomed large. Readers will identify with some of the shady yet humorous characters and stories as similar to ones told in their own families. Wonderful for reading aloud, these serve not only as entertainment but inspiration for others to write down family stories told in the oral tradition. Occasional black-and-white drawings illuminate the characters.
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-These 10 literate stories make for great leisure listening and knowing chuckles. Pete Bruce flatters a baker out of a coconut cream pie and a quart of milk; Mingo may or may not have anything smaller than a 100-dollar bill to pay his bills; Frank and Jesse James, or "the Howard boys," help an old woman against the KKK-ish Knights of the White Gardenia; and Cake Norris wakes up dead one day-again. Carrilho's eerie black-and-white illustrations, dramatically off-balance, lit by moonlight, and elongated like nightmares, are well-matched with the stories. The tales are variously narrated by boys and girls, even though the author's preface seems to set readers up for a single, female narrator in the persona of McKissack herself. They contain the "essence of truth but are fiction from beginning to end," an amalgam of old stories, characters, jokes, setups, and motifs. As such, they have no provenance. Still, it would have helped readers unfamiliar with African-American history to have an author's note helping separate the "truth" of these lies that allude to Depression-era African-American and Southern traditions. That aside, they're great fun to read aloud and the tricksters, sharpies, slicksters, and outlaws wink knowingly at the child narrators, and at us foolish humans.-Susan Hepler, formerly at Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural (1992), illustrated by Brian Pinkney, mines a lighter vein with nine original tales that hark back to yarns from her Tennessee childhood. Opening with reminiscent scene-setters, all feature human "slicksters and tricksters" able to get what they want with charm, like con man Pete Bruce-who scores a generous portion of coconut cream pie from an undeceived cook-or despite bad reputations end up performing some worthy deed, as does chauffeur Lincoln Murphy, who excavates a prematurely buried employer. Other tales feature appearances from Frank and Jesse James, helping to rid sharecroppers of a white predator; from Ralph, king of the ghosts; and from the Devil himself, who makes a young musician the same so-tempting offer once made to bluesman Robert Johnson at a certain crossroads. Capped by blues harmonica player Cake Norris's two-part odyssey up and down the ladder to Heaven, these tales all lend themselves to telling or reading aloud, and carry the common theme that even the worst rascals have saving graces. (author's introduction) (Short stories. 10-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375836190
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/22/2006
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 514,227
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.04 (w) x 10.83 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia C. McKissack is one of the most acclaimed authors writing for children today. She has written many award-winning books, including Never Forgotten, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book; Porch Lies, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book; The Dark Thirty, a Newbery Honor Book; Let My People Go, recipient of the NAACP Image Award; and Mirandy and Brother Wind, a Caldecott Honor Book. Her other books include The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll, Goin' Someplace Special, and Precious and the Boo Hag. Patricia and her husband, Frederick McKissack, are the recipients of the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Andre Carrilho is a designer, cartoonist, caricature artist, and illustrator. His illustrations have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Harper's, and Vanity Fair, among others. He is also the illustrator of the picture book You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! by Jonah Winter. Andre Carrilho lives in Lisbon, Portugal.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2012

    Best book ever!

    It was the firt 500 page book I read when I was in 3rd grade!Its good for grades 4th-6th , but I read at a higher level.It is a good read I would even reread it.Stop wasting time and get it now!

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