LITTLE LIAR by Caryn Umetsu


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A little boy views his everyday life from a bigger-is-better perspective in this picture book for the early grade school set.

“My pancakes are SO yummy that the President of the United States comes to eat breakfast at MY house!” A little boy named Bobby seems to have a most unusual life in Umetsu’s picture book. From his pancakes worthy of a president and his penchant for discovering new species of dinosaurs to his mega-cache of toys (so many “that Santa comes to buy toys from ME!”) and his kudos for a brave dad who can send a T. rex running, Bobby lives large. Is Bobby really fantasizing? Or is this his real life? Only on the back cover does the author explain, and at some length, that Bobby is out of sorts because he must share his parents’ attention with his little brother. So, “instead of becoming a big blob of jealousy,” the author writes, Bobby changes the narrative and plans to “supersize everything” about his life. The concept is a good and possibly universal one for kids with siblings. But without the stage being set to begin with, children have no reason not to take Bobby’s narrative literally. Adults may glean that Bobby exaggerates about his little brother’s sleeping and eating habits and why Mom seems to be a focus for Bobby’s resentment, but kids probably won’t. The author may not have intended this negative treatment of poor Mom to be so jarring. (Her cooking is “yucky”; she does nothing all day but watch TV and “wait for Daddy to come home.”) Because the book’s context is clarified only in the author’s note, this “bad Mommy” element is unpleasant and stereotypical. The uncredited full-color illustrations, bland and awkwardly executed with text and cartoon-style dialogue balloons, are a missed opportunity.

Confusing motivation and lifeless illustrations sink this story about a little boy’s big “lies.”

Pub Date: April 22nd, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4808-2725-7
Page count: 22pp
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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