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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
As a newbie, Georgia manages to navigate a middle school filled with obstacles and bullies while still remaining true to herself. When an "uncool" girl tries to befriend Georgia, she tries to avoid her at first but realizes that the girl's sincerity and kindness mean more than wearing cool clothes or being one of the princesses.
In a nice twist, one of the mean girls' family is rich because her mom discovered "Mac N Cheesyohs," mac and cheese on a stick. Refreshing to have a mom be the business tycoon.
Positive Role Models
A straight-A student who runs into some mean girls on her first day at middle school, Georgia nevertheless figures out the new rules at middle school while still maintaining her niceness and sense of honor. Due to a birth defect, one of Georgia's legs is shorter than the other, so she wears an elevated shoe. This is a facet of her character but doesn't define her.
Violence & Scariness
Miller the (mini) Killer, younger brother of the bully who picked on Rafe in a previous book in this series, pushes Georgia around. Teachers are portrayed in Georgia's dream world (depicted in the illustrations) as dragons and as wielding weapons.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Georgia has a sweet crush on a nice boy; no kissing, just the "best dance ever."
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Products & Purchases
James Patterson often plugs his own books and Middle School: Big, Fat Liar is no exception. Georgia "recommends" readers get background information on brother Rafe by reading Middle School: Worst Years of My Life, and there's a promotional chapter of Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill in the back of this book. Cap'n Crunch cereal is mentioned once.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Middle School: Big, Fat Liar is the third book in James Patterson's Middle School series. Here, his co-author is Lisa Papademetriou, and the focus is on the experience of Rafe's little sister Georgia at the same school Rafe was expelled from in Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. Georgia encounters bullies in the form of three mean girl "princesses" as well as Miller the (mini) Killer (younger brother of Rafe's nemesis) and teachers who are out to get her just because she's related to Rafe. In the end, though, she makes two good friends and discovers the meaning of friendship. She also discovers that her annoying big brother is not that bad. The story touches on topics such as dementia and adoption, but they're not explored in depth. The humor in both the writing and Laura Park's illustrations will appeal to fans of Dear Dumb Diary and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Not a lot to chew on, but the story deals with issues important to middle schoolers. A good choice for reluctant readers.
Is It Any Good?
This plot-driven tale of a nice girl who's trying to do well while encountering common middle school struggles is an easy read with lots of illustrations by Laura Park. Although Middle School: Big Fat Liar is not very deep, it touches on many of the problems middle schoolers face, including bullying, fitting in, and making friends. And in a sea of middle school books geared to boys' experience, it's refreshing to find one that's told from a girl's perspective.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.