Liar & Spy


Written by: Rebecca Stead

For parents of independent readers, we provide a set of questions that should give you insight into what your child is reading and help you engage him/her in meaningful conversations about literature. We recommend using the questions provided here as a springboard for deeper conversation about Liar & Spy and what your child takes away from the book. Enjoy!


Summary

Georges has it pretty good, but then his best friend becomes a skater who hangs with the bullies who make Georges their target; his dad gets fired; his mom has to work extra shifts; and they have to sell their house. The new apartment does not measure up, until Georges sees a sign advertising the Spy Club. This leads him to Safer, who promises to train Georges to be a spy and enlists him to help scope out the building's possibly murderous man in black. Georges is unsure about being a spy, but is also unsure about how to deal with the bullies at school, whether the taste lab will determine he is, in fact, a geeksack, and, most importantly, whether Safer is really all he seems. (VOYA)


Pre-Reading Activity

KWL Chart

Create a K-W-L Chart and have your child fill in the first two columns with information that s/he knows and wants to find out about the story. S/he can fill in the last column, "What I Learned", once s/he has finished the story.

What I Know

After reading the summary of the story, let your child think about what s/he already knows about the story. Consider questions like, "Who are the main characters? What is the problem that he will face? This story is fiction. What is your favorite fiction story? Do you think this story will have anything in common with _______? If so, what?"

What I Want to Know

Include questions that your child might have about the plot, characters and setting. Think about including questions like, "How will Georges deal with Dallas? What reason do they have to be suspicious of Mr. X? How did Safer get his name? How does Safer become more demanding?"


Discussion Questions

  1. When the story opens, what are the hardships that Georges' family is facing?
  2. Georges' mom tells him that he shouldn't be concerned with the little things in life, but should rather look at the big picture. What does this mean? How can you implement this way of thought into your own life?
  3. How does Georges find out about Safer's spy club? How does Safer convince Georges that Mr. X is a suspicious character? 
  4. How is Georges affected by bullying? How does he react to Dallas in the beginning of the story? How about at the end?
  5. This story was written in the first person perspective of Georges. What does that mean? How would the story have been different if it had been told from another character's perspective? Choose one character and determine how s/he would have told the story.
  6. How did Safer get his name? How does Georges react when he discovers that Mr. X isn't actually a threat?
  7. What role does lying play in this story? Can we believe everything that Georges narrates? Why/why not? Is he just lying to the reader or is he lying to himself as well? How so?

Extending the Story

Art Activity: Georges gets his name from the famous pointilist painter, Georges Seurat. Discuss what pointillism is (the art of creating images using thousands of individual dots) and look at some of Georges' works. Now take a stab at creating your own pointillism picture!

 

Writing Activity: Georges' class in the story is tasked with writing about a memory that is sweet, salty, bitter or umami. Think about memories that fit all of these categories and choose one to write about. 

 

Source: Text Publishing

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