I'm a mother and grandmother who enjoys all reading--from mystery, horror, thriller, romance and sci-fi to kiddie lit in all its many forms. Since this book appears to be geared for young boys, I didn't think I would enjoy it very much. However, I liked the title and the tintype photo on the cover, so decided to give it a try.
And surprise of surprises--I loved it!
Less than a minute into Lyin' Like a Dog I found myself transported back to my childhood in Ohio and the fanciful daydreams I used to have... I couldn't help but think of the childish capers my brothers used to pull, our daddy threatening them with his belt, etc. (Well, to be truthful, my BFF Jane Smith and I used to have some whopping adventures ourselves. Being girls, we weren't supposed to admit them, but that's another story...) Granted, we lived in the city, so there were no swamps or moonshiners, but there were plenty of factories, swimming holes and gravel pits to lure us youngsters, not to mention the lonely train whistles to fire our imagination and whisk us off on fantasy adventures of our own.
Anyway, it was nostalgic fun to join these mischievous, but kind-hearted and lovable boys in their riotous capers. I found myself laughing one minute, then holding my breath the next as they went off on their most dangerous daredevil exploits.
I couldn't believe the trouble Richard and John Clayton got into... Whether they were being "Indian scouts" in the swamps, finagling money to buy comic books, spying on some moonshiners, hurrying through Richard's newspaper route, witnessing illegal crimes, out-bullying the school bully, playing a vicious game of tug-of-war, or getting their first crush on girls, somehow they always managed to make it humorous.
I felt like I knew the cast of characters from the parents to the teachers to their friends; characters with such amusing names as Ears, Swampy, Homer Ray and Curly. Rosalie is the pretty little rich girl, Connie is Richard's special friend, a girl called Freckles is John Clayton's, and Uncle Hugh is their oldest friend. He's a "colored man" whom the boys help by doing small tasks and visiting to keep him from getting lonely. Hugh tells the best stories and frightens them to death with his ghost stories. He plays a pivotal role in the book.
I particularly enjoyed their Tom Sawyer-like adventures told in the childish vernacular of the narrator, Richard Mason (patterned from the author's life in rural Arkansas). It's all about Richard and his best friend John Clayton Reed during the eleventh year of their lives. The time period is from December 1944 to September1945 and some scenes depict the family listening to Walter Winchell report the dramatic events of WWII.
Author R. Harper Mason certainly seems to understand a young boy's mind because the speech pattern is spot on and the action and characteristics are realistic. He must be a natural-born storyteller because he relates this tale in an easy-to-read, chronological order with excellent pacing. The questions that form in the readers' minds are answered in all the right places. He certainly transported me to another world with ease and efficiency. The ending was warm and satisfactory; no loose ends here.
I'm still smiling as I recommend Lyin' Like a Dog to young and old alike. This is the second book about young Richard's life. The first was The Red Scarf and I can't wait to read it. I hope he continues this series.
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, July 1, 2010 Author of "Dream Reachers" (with Chase Von) and other books
In today's age of storytelling, it seems like every young adult book published requires wizards or dragons. I'd thought long gone were the days when the shenanigans of everyday `chilluns' didn't involve a vampire, a witch, or a werewolf. Today's teens and tweens have been drafted into the service of international espionage instead of worrying about pimples, hygiene, and starlight. And how many suburban high school proms are every really spoiled by a lumbering army of bloodthirsty … more
Twelve-year-old boys that have room to roam can have great adventures, but they can also get into a lot of trouble. Richard and John Clayton are inseparable best friends with a lot of curiosity, energy and a desire to make things happen. It is an understatement to say that they are merely active, their bodies and minds are going all the time, not necessarily always in the proper direction. Their activities in rural Arkansas at the end of World War II range from exploring the local swamps, … more
One of the best and most enjoyable reads I have had in quite awhile now was The Red Scarf by Richard Mason. Now comes this second book by the same author under the name of R. Harper Mason! Pure reading joy and bliss, I must say! Lyin' Like a Dog begins right where The Red Scarf leaves off, the day after Christmas in a small S.W. Arkansas town in 1944. Of course, you need not read `The Red Scarf' first, but I am glad I did. In this offering, even though it is a completely separate … more
Mason, R. Harper. "Lyin' Like a Dog", Gibraltar Press. 2007. Life in Arkansas Amos Lassen Being new to Arkansas I am always curious to know what it was like growing up there. R. Harper Mason is our hero, Robert, a paperboy living in the small town of Norphet and we read how he interacted with the others that lived there. This is a sequel to the author's first novel, "The Red Scarf". As Richard grew up we are with him … more
BETTY DRAVIS was born in Hamilton, Ohio, one of seven children of John and Felda Barger. Her natural writing ability was nurtured by a “great Ohio school system, caring teachers, and a loving family.” … more
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As a young boy, R. Harper Mason lived the life of the paperboy, 'Richard,' in this novel. His interactions with the people in the small town of Norphlet, Arkansas, and the surrounding woods and swamps, formed the basis for both his first novel, The Red Scarf, and this sequel, Lyin' Like a Dog. It was time of brown, sunburned feet and shirtless summers where a boy's only entertainment was his imagination. Mason is a geologist, an environmentalist, and an advocate for historic preservation. He lives with his wife, Vertis, in El Dorado, Arkansas... a few miles south of Flat Creek Swamp.