Liar & Spy

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Curriculet Details
45 Questions
45 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for elementary school students contains interactive videos exploring plot elements and making textual connections, as well as annotations describing inferences, visualizing, and flashbacks. Students will explore the themes of bullying and friendship. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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The Science Unit of Destiny

Rebecca Stead grew up in New York City, which is setting of this novel. She began writing in elementary school. When she graduated high school she decided to be a lawyer. After her two sons were born she started checking out many books from the library and that sparked her interest in writing again. Her advice to young writers is to remember there are no rules in writing.  (This annotation contains an image)

People, People

Why did the narrator's Mom record America's Funniest Home Videos? 
When reading literature, it is important to know the point of view from which the story is being told. Watch this video and learn about the different points of view that appear in texts.  (This annotation contains a video)
Think back to the video you just watched. From which point of view is this story told? 

Sir Ott

Below is a copy of the Seurat poster in Georges' living room.  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain what Georges' Mom feels is the symbolism behind Seurat's poster. 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
How would Georges describe his relationship with his father? 

Spy Club

When you are reading dialogue it can get confusing trying to figure out who is talking. One strategy to try is visualizing. Reread the sentences before the dialogue and picture the characters in your head. Then as you read the dialogue try to 'see' the characters talking. This will help you keep the dialogue with the correct characters. 
What is the setting of this story? 


Spies have a good memory for details and are aware of their surroundings at all times. Safer is testing Georges on his observation skills and memory.  
Use the Define feature and read the definition for exasperation. Which of the following words is an synonym of exasperation as it is used here? 
You have been introduced to several characters in this novel so far. What traits do they have? Watch this video to learn more about character traits.  (This annotation contains a video)


What is something Georges misses from his old house? 
Are you surprised Dad told Georges all of these feelings? Georges is!  
Which line from the story lets you know Georges is surprised by the note from Safer? 


Georges' Mom is finding a way to communicate with her son even though she cannot talk to him during the day. This shows that Georges and his Mom are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. 
When Mr. Landau sighs how is he feeling? 
Do you think Mr. Landau wants to talk because he saw Georges being bullied by Dallas? Or does he want to know how Georges is handling moving houses? 


At the end of the last chapter Georges made a point of remembering details from the classroom. Now he is questioning the candy story clerk. What do these actions tell you about Georges? 
Georges tells his Mom the parts of his day that are positive and that she would want to hear. He leaves out anything bad that happens. 
According to Safer's questions, did Georges' observational skills improve? 
This is an interesting quotation from a child. Safer seems to have many unique qualities. 
Which word below is an antonym for furtive as it is used in this story? 
This conversation does not give you any more answers to help understand Safer but it does give you more questions. 


What challenges are Georges' family facing? 
Below is an updated taste bud map, with umami included.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why is George's memory about Jason and the bird bittersweet? 
Section 1 Quiz 

Chicken IS Chickens

Georges is upset that Jason is not his good friend anymore, but he is coming to the realization that they just grew apart. Has that ever happened with you and a good friend? 
What has happened to Pigeon, Safer's brother? 
These lines from the novel tell you that Safer is a leader and Georges is a follower. When the main character is a follower this usually leads to his conflict in the story. Watch the video below to learn about the elements of plot in literature.  (This annotation contains a video)
Based on Pigeon's example of alliteration, which sentence below has alliteration? 
This dialogue gives you some insight into Safer's feelings towards his brother.  
Do you agree or disagree with Safer's opinion that school is 95% a waste of time? Use details from the story to support your answer. 

The Soft G

Think about the plot elements. Bob mentions Georges incident with pushing Dallas in the gym as being a big deal to Dallas. Under which plot element would the pushing incident fall? 
Watch this video to see what kids think about bullying.  (This annotation contains a link)
Safer rarely goes outside his apartment building. Which clues from the story support that statement? 

Bounce and Yank

Georges is remembering an event that happened before. In literature this is called a flashback. Authors put them in to provide context to the current conflict. 
Do you think that Safer is an excellent spy who has uncovered a murderer? 
Georges has interesting ways to describe things. If you picture, or visualize, what he is describing you will see things exactly like he does. 


Why are the black clothes in the dryer significant?  
The author, Rebecca Stead, builds tension in this scene. She does this first by having Safer be calm at the beginning. Then she has Georges call, shout, and finally yell. Lastly she uses exclamation points so that you will read the dialogue with expression. 
The title of this novel is Liar and Spy. Is Georges a liar or a spy? Include evidence from the passage to support your answer. 
Rebecca Stead and other authors use the three dots above to signal you that the setting is changing. Usually some time has passed. In this case Georges has cleaned up and went up to Safer's apartment. 
Why do Candy's eyes "...look all lit she's glowing"? 

Big Picture

Having friends like Bob makes school a little more manageable for Georges. 
Why did Georges let the phone ring? 
Most people name their babies at birth. If Georges' Mom hears about this story she will definitely think they are strange. 
What word below is an antonym for impatiently? 
This is Georges' decision time. He has to decide to trust Safer and try the door handle or trust his instinct and turn away. 


Safer led Georges to believe that he was going in Mr. X's apartment. Now he is claiming he was never going to go on. Why does Safer keep changing his story? 
Safer is teaching Georges Morse Code. Morse Code is a special way people can communicate with an alphabet or code in which letters are represented by combinations of long and short signals of light or sound. Below is a video showing you the alphabet in morse code. (This annotation contains a video)
What is Safer's plan? 

Break and Enter (#1)

Georges tells the Moo-cow kid a joke to make the boy cheer up. This shows that Georges is caring towards others. 
How does Georges know that Safer actually went into Mr. X's apartment? 
Georges must miss his mom. That is why he smells her robe.  


What theme is the author suggesting in this section? 
Mandy stands up to Dallas. She does walk away eventually but maybe Georges will learn how to stand up for himself. 
Why did Ms. Warner pick Georges as team captain? 
Dallas' bullying is increasing in severity. Do you think the Capture the Flag game irritated Dallas so much that he followed Georges to Bennie's store? 
Why is Bob suggesting Georges lie during the taste test? 
Georges is having a great afternoon. Bob called to give him "taste test" pointers and Safer says he has a strength. 

Break and Enter (#2)

Why did Georges decide not to be Safer's lookout? 
Georges seems very angry at Safer. Safer may have crossed the line when he pretended to be in trouble. 


Why does Safer decline Dad's invitation to the art museum? 
"The friend of my enemy is my enemy" and "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer" are proverbs. Proverbs are short sayings that give advice. 
Based on the clues in the story, what is Georges opinion of Pigeon? 
Section 2 Quiz 

A Message from the Chef

Readers make connections when they read. Watch this video about the three kinds of connections. Then think about Georges' uncomfortable situation in the restaurant. Can you make any connections with Georges?  (This annotation contains a video)

Break and Enter (#3)

Read the poem "Making Decisions" on the website below.  (This annotation contains a link)
Think about the poem you read and the decisions Georges has to make. How do they compare? Use evidence from the poem and the novel to explain your response. 
Swish-swish is an example of onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is a form of figurative language where the word is formed from a sound associated with what it is named. 
What does the way Georges handles stressful situations tell you about Georges' character? 

Mr. X

What is Georges realizing here? 
This is the scene where you will learn the turning point, or climax of the story. 
Summarize the events from the chapter Mr. X. 

Rules of the Game

While Georges is very angry with Safer, he does have to agree that his father's logic is correct. 
What information did Georges reveal to his father? 

Blu Teem

Here is a close-up of the Seurat painting. When you look close you can see how the dots are separate.  (This annotation contains an image)

Taste Test

What is the Blue Team's plan? 
Nothing may have changed on the outside, but Georges has changed on the inside. He also sees Jason differently. 
Georges is learning the best way to deal with a bully. What way is that? 

Knock, Knock

Safer has many phobias, or fear of things. This website gives you more information about phobias.  (This annotation contains a link)
Where did the Spy Club idea orignate? 
Rebecca Stead uses imagery, or sensory words, to help you understand how upset Georges is. 
Where has Georges' Mom been and why? 
Georges went to Safer's door on his own. Do you think he is ready to forgive him? 

How to Land a Plane

Even though this is a fiction story, the description of the city is poetic. If you did not get a good visualization of the city as it was described, reread the paragraph. Rebecca Stead is painting beautiful pictures for you with her words. 
Why is Georges remembering his mother's story about London? 

Little of Both

What did Georges' visit to the hospital help you understand? 

The Scout

Safer is making a big improvement on his list of fears. Do you agree with Georges that Candy only stayed home to keep Safer company? 
Section 3 Quiz