Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Written and illustrated by Diane deGroat
SeaStar 2003
ISBN 1587172143
Ages 4 - 8

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When Mrs. Byrd tells Gilbert's class that they're going to be doing plays about famous people, Gilbert's heart sinks. Plays make him nervous - what if he forgets his lines? So when he lands the role of George Washington in a play about the cherry tree, he's determined to do it without any mistakes. But when his most important prop goes missing right before the show, Gilbert loses his cool and looks to blame anyone but himself. The seventh story about this most beloved opossum is a wise and funny tale of truth and lies- and butterflies! - that's a perfect tie-in for President's Day, Independence Day, and school units on biography.

From Booklist Okay, so the story of George Washington's cutting down the cherry tree has been proven more hagiography than biography, but this story, in which Gilbert the opossum plays Washington in the familiar incident, is so much fun allowances can be made. Gilbert isn't crazy about his role; he would prefer to be the tree so he doesn't blow any lines. Against the rules, he brings his Washington hat home to better practice his part, but he goes overboard with the story's signature line, as when his mother feeds him a new soup: "I cannot tell a lie. I don't like it." The next day he forgets to bring the hat back, and he implies Philip took it. He then gets a good lesson in the importance of telling the truth (and another in forgiveness, from Philip) that brings the story full circle. Fans of previous books about Gilbert, such as Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet (1998), will appreciate Gilbert's return and new readers will be drawn right in by the humorous text, the sprightly art with its all-animal cast, and the message that peeks through the fun.

From Publisher's Weekly - DeGroat (Roses Are Pink, Your feet Really Stink) brings back Gilbert, the affable possum, as he prepares to play George Washington in a class skit reenacting the young Washington's admission that h cut down the cherry tree...In a comic dinner-table scene, the aspiring actor stays in character a bit too well, insisting that he "cannot tell a lie" and hurting feelings by announcing that he does not like the soup his mother has made and that his younger sister is a "big copycat."... As always, deGroat's amusing detailed watercolor art portrays the hero as he runs through an array of emotions, and Gilbert's animal classmates make an endearing crew. The dynamics between family members and friends are spot-on. This sprightly story delivers a clear moral in a gentle voice.