Children’s Book of the Month: Beaky Malone, World’s Greatest Liar
Book: Beaky Malone, World’s Greatest Liar by Barry Hutchison; illustrated by Katie Abey
Age category 8-11 years
Have you ever told a lie and gotten into a whole lot of trouble? In this hilarious story from Barry Hutchison, it seems that telling the truth can sometimes cause just as many problems.
Beaky Malone has a habit of telling big fat lies, and it seems that he has his parents, his friends and everyone else fooled. The only person who sees through Beaky’s lies is his sister, Jodie, and when she shoves Beaky into a mysterious truth-telling machine neither of them believe for a minute that it will work… But somehow it does!
Now not only can Beaky not tell a lie, he can’t stop embarrassing truths from coming out of his mouth. This is where the story really takes off, with Beaky blurting out everyone’s secrets in spectacular style and causing total chaos. This is a thoroughly entertaining new book from bestselling author Barry Hutchison.
We have 5 copies of Beaky Malone, World’s Greatest Liar to be won! To be in with a chance of winning one, just tell us whether the following statement is true or a lie:
Earth is the closest planet to the sun.
Q&A with Barry Hutchison
Have you ever told a lie that got you into a lot of trouble?
When I was about ten, I wanted a few days off school, so I pretended to have a headache. I knew my parents would be suspicious (blagging sick days was a bit of a speciality of mine) so I knew I'd have to put in a really convincing performance if I was to fool my mum and dad. On Sunday night, I cunningly set my alarm clock for 5am, and kept it tucked under my pillow so only I would hear it.
At 5 next morning, I reset the alarm for the proper time, then got up and staggered through to my parents' room, clutching my head and groaning like a zombie. They fell for it hook, line and sinker, and it was immediately clear that I was getting a day off. So convincing was my performance, though, that they decided to take me into the local A&E department to get checked over, as getting a doctor's appointment at that time involved a two-week wait.
I thought the doctors at A&E would dismiss a headache as nothing to worry about, so I decided to up my game. Suddenly, it wasn't just pain in my head I had to worry about - I was losing balance and seeing colours, too. I staggered about for effect, almost knocking other patients over as I was ushered to a bed. My poor parents were worried sick, perched by my bedside, waiting to hear from the consultant.
I, on the other hand, was loving it. I could string at least a week off school out of this. Maybe more.
The consultant turned up. He thought there was probably nothing wrong, but said that he wanted to be on the safe side, so I was sent for a CAT scan of my head. This involved a two-hour ride by ambulance. I got travel sick at the best of times, but whizzing up a twisting Highland road, facing the wrong way in the back of a windowless metal box meant I was soon cascading gallons of vomit in all directions.
The paramedics took this as a sign that my condition had worsened, so hit the lights and the siren. When we reached the hospital I must've looked like death - pale, puke-splattered, and drenched in a cold sweat. The consultant up there took one look at me and decided they were going to run another test before the scan. It was a test I'd never heard of before. It was something called a 'lumbar puncture'.
Had I known what a lumbar puncture involved, I'd have leapt to my feet, announced I was fine, and declared it a miracle. But I didn't, so instead I just complained that the light was hurting my eyes, and was rolled through for the procedure - a procedure which involved a frickin' enormous metal spike (well, a needle) being stabbed into my spine so spinal fluid could be drained out.
Unsurprisingly, neither the lumbar puncture nor the scan found anything wrong. The headache cleared up the next day (because I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could) and I went back to school the day after. And I never pretended to be sick again.
Or did I...?
What was your favourite story as a child?
Easy - Wagstaffe the Wind-Up Boy by Jan Needle. I read it when I was about eight or nine, and it immediately became my favourite book. It's about a boy who is in an accident, then is rebuilt using clockwork parts, and is probably still the funniest book I've ever read. I remember being absolutely obsessed with it, taking it out of the library again and again. No matter how often I read it, the jokes never stopped being funny, either. It was out of print for years, but has recently been published again. I've already picked up a copy, but am a bit scared to read it in case it's not as good as I remember.
Will we be hearing more about Beaky Malone in any upcoming books?
Oh yes. Now that Beaky can't lie, life is going to become much more difficult - and dangerous - for him. It's not just that he can't lie any more, but he is compelled to always tell the truth, so keeping his mouth shut isn't even an option. Imagine having to tell your teacher exactly what you thought of him, or having to explain to the school bully that his personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired. And what if you've been harbouring a secret crush on one of the dinner ladies, and keeping it to yourself has just become impossible...? Beaky will have to deal with all that and more as he tries to figure out a way to get his lying mojo back. I can't wait to see how he copes!
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