Sweetness and Lies
Author: Karen McCombie
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Price: £ 5.99
KRB rating: 8/10
Recommended age: +10
Looking at the cover of Karen McCombie’s Sweetness and Lies, with its’ glittery letters, purple back ground and three girls on the front, I did not think that I would like it. Glitter and three girls looking a bit like the Spice Girls or The Sugar Babes does not normally bode well and the oversized sticker saying ‘dyslexia friendly’ does not help the appearance of the book either. The content of the book though I did like.
The main character, Tilly, is BFFA (Best Friend Forever –Already) with Mia. Tilly was feeling a bit lost and worried when starting her new school, and Mia made her giggle. In fact, since meeting Mia, she has not stopped giggling, but Mia’s jokes are always at the expense of someone, sometimes even Tilly.
When Amber starts school one week later than everyone, because a hurricane canceled her flight from Barbados where she was visiting her granny, Tilly recognises her anxiety and apprehension as similar as her own. But Mia says Amber is lying. She says Amber does not have a granny in Barbados and that all the other things she has told them are lies too. Tilly is trapped between two girls, one of whom is liar, and she has to listen to her inner voice to find out which.
This is a tale of something we all have to do in life; learning to listen to our inner voice, stand up for ourselves and dare to question, and is not a problem exclusive to 13-year-old girls. This book puts it in terms that any 25- or 50- year old can understand.
The dyslexia friendly aspect of the book I like (apart from the sticker). Having dyslexia myself and remembering my main problems as, among other things, finding it hard to navigate the page, and when failing to do so, feeling inadequate and stupid, Barrington Stoke has taken the navigational problems into account. For some it will no doubt be strange to read a book on yellow paper, though, this yellow makes it easier to distinguish the letters as the stand out more than against a white background. It is helping the reading experience to become less charged.
Furthermore, the problem of confusing lines, getting stuck on the same line over and over, is helped by clear spacing and paragraphing which makes the page easier to navigate. Thicker paper has also been used, I think, for the same reason. If it is already hard to read and navigate the page, a lot of focus will go to that and it takes longer to notice if you accidentally skip one page. All in all, I really like the dyslexia friendliness, which I would perhaps just call clarity. It is a format to encourage as many readers as possible to stay on track, continue reading and not giving up.