Kevin is an expert liar. He's experienced, practiced, and perfect. As just one example of his expertise, he starts out the week by lying to the "I don't think of her as a girl" Katie. By the time he's finished, she thinks he has a terrible disease and is more than happy to do all the work for their group project. Everything's great..."Then I turned the corner in the upstairs hall on my way to lunch and fell in love." Kevin is completely bowled over by his sudden and complete fall for Tina Zabinski. He absolutely has to get her attention...and what better way than a few harmless lies? One thing leads to another and suddenly he's in deep trouble with almost every one of his friends and teachers - and the ones he's not in trouble with yet, well, they'll find out soon enough. Is there any way he can fix the mess he's lied his way into? Kevin is a more realistic and likable Wimpy Kid. He's funny, smart, and good-hearted, but he's also immature, cruel, and manipulative. By the end of the story, he's made a lot of mistakes, caused a lot of problems and hurt a lot of people, but he's also acknowledged his mistakes, admitted he was wrong, and made restitution.
This was a great story and the only drawback is...where do you shelve it? It's only 120 pages long, the art on the cover says "middle grade" to me, and the publisher puts it in the 8-12 range. But, Kevin is 14 and there are some definite edging-into-teen reactions to girls and some mild language that make me doubtful about putting this into our juvenile area, which right now is mainly beginning chapter books and fantasies. Then again, we're planning to move the tweens downstairs and this will take that section up a notch. Anyone have any thoughts/feelings on appropriate audience for this book?
Verdict: Once I've decided where to put it, I will definitely purchase this book. In fact, I think I may already have bought it. Paulsen perfectly captures a real fourteen year old boy and makes him funny, likable, and interesting. Highly recommended.
ISBN: 9780385740012; Published March 2011 by Wendy Lamb; ARC received from publisher at ALA Midwinter; Purchased for the library.