The Pudding Problem

illus. by Joe Berger. 240p. (Lyttle Lies: Bk. 1). S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. May 2017. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781481470834.
Gr 3–6—Sam Lyttle has a big issue with telling the truth. He'd much rather skirt the facts in a misguided attempt to please those around him than deal with the complications of reality. Telling one lie leads to more and more until a landslide of falsehoods eventually push Sam into a confrontation with both his family and the school bully. Confounding matters is the arrival of Pudding the cat; staring into the feline's soulful eyes makes Sam feel incredibly guilty when he attempts to lie. This is a silly, slice-of-life tale with plenty of action and lots of (mildly gross) humor. The characters are quirky, amusing, and relatable, and Berger imparts a positive, nonpreachy message about the importance of honesty. Black-and-white comics flow smoothly from panel to panel; the characters are easy to distinguish from one another, and the story line is clear. At first glance, this narrative, which combines prose and comic book panels, may seem like just another "Wimpy Kid" look-alike, but the charming protagonist, who often falls flat on his face despite good intentions, makes this series entry stand out.
VERDICT Fans of Lincoln Peirce's "Big Nate" and Stephan Pastis's "Timmy Failure" will adore this title; a fun addition to any juvenile graphic novel collection.

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