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Dreamer, Wisher, Liar



Fun, heartfelt summer tale of time-traveling tween.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Dreamer, Wisher, Liar offers interesting glimpses of things kids may want to explore on their own, from late 20th century life to coping with disabilities.

Positive messages

Strong messages about family, friendship, kindness -- and how they help you cope with changes in life; thinking of creative ways to have fun, and forming new bonds in the process.

Positive role models

The girls, past and present, don't always do the right thing -- they sneak into an absent neighbor's yard to use the trampoline, tell lies, disobey their parents, etc. But narrator Ashley's heart is in the right place, and she rises to unexpected challenges, from time travel to dealing with loss. BFF Lucy, away at camp, manages to still be a good friend, as does classmate Sam, whose face Ashley's starting to recognize. Ashley's mom, an avid Freecycler, has a tendency to accumulate junk, but she's kind, caring and clever in balancing the very different needs of her own kid and her late friend's bereaved daughter.

Violence & scariness

In the past, an important character dies in a car accident.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Dreamer, Wisher, Liar is a sweet summer tale for tween girls that promotes kindness, friendship, and family. The kid characters don't always make wise choices or do the right thing. Present-day narrator Ashley disobeys her mom, sneaking into the forbidden basement for time-travel adventures, and joins her friends in unauthorized use of a neighbor's trampoline. While, in the past, girls Ashley's age go dumpster diving and play practical jokes on their neighbors. Seven-year-old Claire's mom has died after leaving her family. But as Ashley simultaneously copes with her own issues, Claire's needs, and the fragmentary story she's seeing in her time travels, she gets plenty of support from her caring parents, as well as new and old friends of all ages. Bonus: From Pretend Hawaii to swimming lessons, thrift store forays, and volunteer projects, the girls' activities offer plenty of ideas for keeping kids from getting bored this summer.

What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Ashley has a hidden disability -- face blindness, which makes her unable to recognize people. She's gotten along all right, though, because her BFF Lucy helps her navigate social situations. But as summer begins, there's trouble ahead: Lucy's family is moving to the other side of the country, and instead of spending the summer with Lucy at camp, Ashley's stuck at home taking care of relentlessly cheery Claire, a 7-year-old whose late mom was a friend of Ashley's mother. Also, she's accidentally discovered a mysterious jar filled with scraps of paper, each of which propels her to the past and the adventures of two girls her own age.


Is it any good?


Middle-grade girls will find it easy to relate to Ashley and the situations she finds herself in. Along with social awkwardness, summer plans gone haywire, being stuck with entertaining a younger kid, maybe losing a friend, and maybe making new ones, there's also coping with your favorite author taking stories in a whole new direction. And, of course, time travel and the ability to see life in the past up close and personal.

Kids with a lot of reading under their belt will probably solve the mystery of what connects the girls from the past with Ashley's life long before the big reveal. But they'll probably have so much fun following the irrepressible Claire as she turns Ashley's life upside down that they won't mind -- especially since they'll probably get quite a few ideas for their own fun activities.


Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why time-travel stories are popular. How do Ashley's adventures compare with other time-travel stories you've read or seen in movies?

  • If you could travel back in time and witness the life of one of your ancestors, whom would you pick? Why?

  • How would you feel if your best friend moved far away? Do you think this kind of separation was harder before we had the Internet?

Book details

Author:Charise Mericle Harper
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Balzer + Bray
Publication date:April 15, 2014
Number of pages:352
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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