Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: L is for Liar – the Unreliable Narrator

I’ve heard people discuss the ‘unreliable narrator’ for years, but I never really understood the joy or appreciation of this narrative mode – until I read Rebecca Stead’s Liar and Spy. (Which fabulously just won the Guardian children’s fiction prize.)

Maybe it’s because Georges is really hiding from circumstances he can’t handle, maybe it’s because of how he’s being treated at school, but you sympathize with him. And, if you reach the end of the book not knowing his status, it’s not THAT big of a surprise. Not like the other liar in the book. In fact, when you get to the end you realize that Georges has really been the spy all along.

There are many other books where the unreliable narrator is a less sympathetic character, usually for good reason. One such book would be Justine Larbalestier’s brilliant Liar. Hmm…I’m beginning to see a title trend.

The narrator, Micah, is a compulsive liar, who initially, mischeviously, fools her whole school into believing she is a boy. The lies get progressively darker from there.

There are many out there to try – here are some notable options:


I know, it’s more than 5. I lied.

More Unreliable Narrators on Library Thing

Tuesday Top 10: Time Travel

Since we are talking about Mr. Was and time travel, I thought we should put today’s Top 10 list together: Time Travel books! So I’ll share my list of Top 10 Time Travel books for teens, then you share yours in the comments. And if you are really brave, share a day you would go back in time to change or fix or just relive because it was pure awesome.


Read what Pete Hautman has to say about writing Mr. Was.

“No matter what your reality looks like, you’re the girl I’m in love with today, and the same girl I’ll be in love with tomorrow and all the days after that. Not just because of who you are, but because of who you were. It’s all part of your story, Em. And I want to be a part of your story, too.”

And don’t forget the sequel, Timepiece
“Life’s all about the revolution, isn’t it? The one inside, I mean. You can’t change history. You can’t change the world. All you can ever change is yourself.” Jennifer Donnelly
“People think they own time. They have watches and clocks and digital pulses. But they are wrong. Time owns them. Caroline B. Cooney
“We all have such stories. It is a brutal arithmetic. But I I am alive. You are alive. As long as we breathe, we can see and hear. As long as we can remember, all those gone before are alive inside us.” Jane Yolen
“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract“. Madeleine L’Engle

First in the Time Quartet by Madeleine L’Engle


“I still think about the letter you asked me to write. It nags at me, even though you’re gone and there’s no one to give it to anymore. Sometimes I work on it in my head, trying to map out the story you asked me to tell, about everything that happened this past fall and winter. It’s all still there, like a movie I can watch when I want to. Which is never.” Rebecca Stead
“There is only one page left to write on. I will fill it with words of only one syllable. I love. I have loved. I will love.” Audrey Niffenegger

“You are one of the missing.” Margaret Peterson Haddix

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix is the first book in The Missing series

“You are so . . . 11:59″ Scott Westerfeld

The Midnighters series is not really about time travel, but it is about bending time and I love it so I am including it.

As for travelling back in time . . . I would love to go back in time and just hold my babies again as little babies. Or the day I cracked open the first Harry Potter book, that was a fun ride.