Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and Other Wily Characters

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and Other Wily Characters Book Poster Image
Delightful tall tales great for reading aloud.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Most of the stories are about someone being outwitted, but the trickster characters here are often the most sympathetic.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's little to be concerned about here and much to be admired.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byp1m 2c3k4 April 9, 2008

What's the story?

Ten short stories, crosses between tall tales and 20th-century trickster tales, are all told while sitting on a porch in the summertime. Most of the stories involve someone being outwitted: A baker is conned out of pie, a con man wins a bet by being honest, an old woman outwits Frank and Jesse James, a man fakes out a houseful of ghosts, and more.

Is it any good?

The best thing about this delightful and often hilarious series of tall tales is the setting. The days of sitting around on a hot porch at night, sipping lemonade and swapping stories, seem so distant now -- a precious part of our common culture that's vanishing under the onslaught of media, air conditioning, and loss of community.

The stories in PORCH LIES: TALES OF SLICKSTERS, TRICKSTERS, AND OTHER WILY CHARACTERS are about our neighbors -- ordinary people we can recognize, every one of them likable and charming, in relatively modern settings. They imbue the everyday with humor, magic, and mystery and could be the inspiration for a few readers to try their hand at creating tall tales out of everyday life. The collection is marred only by the artwork. The drawings are so weirdly stylized and caricatured that, though some may find them funny, others may find them a shade too close to a minstrel show for comfort.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the morals in each story. Why are the tricksters often the most sympathetic characters? Why is it often only the children who see the good in them? Families may be inspired by the storytelling tradition depicted here to try telling some of their own tales.

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