Ten-year-old Frederick Frederickson is not the guy who wins games and walks around school like he owns the place. He's the guy "who missed the shot and lost the game for everyone else, the one who got laughed at." Frederick's friend Joel has a philosophy about people: some are lions, some are gazelles and some are fleas on meerkat butts. And, although Frederick's always been okay being a "loser," believing that he would one day transform, like Harry Potter becoming a wizard, he's beginning to worry. He suspects--and his so-called friends corroborate--that he's the flea.
The one bright spot in Frederick's life is the annual Labor Day cruise his family takes. But this year, warnings of an impending hurricane put the kibosh on the trip. Frustrated, Frederick bumbles through a series of poor choices that, combined with some bad luck, leave him--literally--up a creek without a paddle. He awakens on a sandy bank on the grounds of Camp Omigoshee, where delinquent "boys are transformed," according to the camp propaganda. Mistaken for a notorious bad boy named Dashiell Blackwood, Frederick suddenly, magically, becomes the popular ringleader for his cabin group. Not surprisingly, the deception eventually goes terribly wrong, and Frederick/Dashiell once again is in a terrible predicament, with the aforementioned hurricane now headed straight for Camp Omigoshee!
Like Holes for a slightly younger age group, Lions & Liars is a funny, slightly dark story about the assumptions we make about others and the self-fulfilling prophesies with which we curse ourselves. Kate Beasley (Gertie's Leap to Greatness) and Caldecott Award-winning artist Dan Santat (The Adventures of Beekle) team up in this funny, accessible and thought-provoking novel, which will have readers rooting for the flea on the butt of the meerkat every time. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor