Middle School: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar

Common Sense Media says

Realistic middle school issues from a girl's point of view.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Georgia's an avid reader, and the names of the books she's reading are sprinkled into the text, including The Book Thief, Eragon, The Invention of Hugo Cabretand even the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Kids may be inspired to check these books out.  

Positive messages

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

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. 

Sex

Georgia has a sweet crush on a nice boy; no kissing, just the "best dance ever."

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

James Patterson often plugs his own books and Middle School: My Brother Is a 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. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Middle School: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar is the third book in James Patterson and Chris TebbettsMiddle School series. Here 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. 

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Kids say

What's the story?

Georgia's excited to be starting at Hills Village Middle School, even though her brother, Rafe, was kicked out in sixth grade. She makes a bet with him that her experiences will be different, but her brother's bad reputation haunts her from the start. Teachers see her last name and assume the worst. On her first day, she encounters the mean girl \"princesses\" and Miller the (mini) Killer. She soon realizes Rafe was right: HVMS is like a prison. Unlike her brother, though, she makes the best of it, finds a couple of good friends, and stands up to the bullying. Through a mean trick of Rafe's, Georgia's garage band is scheduled to play the school dance, which in the end turns out to be good thing. No spoiler here, but on the night of the dance she finds out a secret about herself that puts much of her experiences at HVMS in perspective. She also finds out Rafe is not such a bad brother after all.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Fans of James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts' Middle School series will enjoy MIDDLE SCHOOL: MY BROTHER IS A BIG, FAT LIAR. The plot-driven story is an easy read with lots of illustrations by Laura Park, and it explores the experience of a nice girl who's trying to do well while encountering common middle school struggles. Although not very deep, it touches on many of the problems middle schoolers face, including bullying, fitting in, and making friends. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about bullying and what to do if you witness it at your school. Check out our tips and tools for parents, kids, and educators for ideas on how to combat bullying. 

  • What's it like to read a book in the Middle School series that's told from a girl's point of view instead of a boy's? What's different about it? What's similar? 

  • When Georgia first meets fellow student Rhonda, she describes her as huge and doesn't want to be friends. How can body image affect how kids see themselves and others? 

Book details

Authors:James Patterson, Lisa Papademetriou
Illustrator:Neil Swaab
Genre:Humor
Topics:Book characters, Brothers and sisters, Friendship, Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:March 1, 2013
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of Middle School: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar was written by

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Teen, 14 years old Written byJimmy brew October 4, 2014
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Funny laughs in evil middle school threequel

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