Notes from a Liar and Her Dog (Hardcover) by Gennifer Choldenko. Putnam Juvenile, 2001. ISBN: 0399235914. pp: 224 in 27 chapters. Ages: 10-14, gr: 6-8.
Paperback (Reprint edition June, 2003) ISBN: 0142500682



Twelve-year-old Antonia MacPherson feels that most parts of her life are bad. Everyone thinks she is a liar and no one believes her. Her parents don’t know what to do with her. Her sisters tease her about being so different and not liked. Her teachers think she is a poor student and troublemaker. Her sixth grade classmates ignore her except for another outcast, Harrison Emerson. But with Harrison to pal with at school, and her dog Pistachio to adore her at home, she has two loyal friends who are joined by an unlikely third - an art teacher who sees behind the facade and helps Antonio begin to show her vulnerability.


  1. On her website, Gennifer Choldenko has posted some illustrations for her book that were done by kids. Make your own page of illlustrations.

  2. Compare Ant with Amber Brown in the series by Paula Danziger.

  3. Create a class webpage about Dog Breeds. Some students bring snapshots of either their own dog or a dog in the neighborhood. Students work in groups of 2, 3, or 4 to research the breed of dog and layout a page to present their information.

  4. Get a brochure from a zoo in your area that includes a map of the zoo grounds. Carefully read the details describing the time Ant spends at the zoo. What parts, if any, don’t "fit" the map that you have? If there is no zoo in your area, use the SanDiego Zoo map.

  5. Visit the Virtual Zoo. What is your favorite display? Why?

  6. Draw an animal. If you think you can’t draw, let Billy Bear or Uncle Fred help you. Uncle Fred even has step-by-step directions for drawing a chick.

  7. At Benbo’s Zoo, the name of an animal turns into a picture of the animal. Study some of these. Choose something in your home or classroom and make a picture of it using the letters that spell the word.

  8. Although Antonia found solving her problems with other people to be difficult, she had no trouble problem solving at the Math-a-thon. Try your success at problem solving.

  9. Elizabeth will be a ballerina and Harrison an artist, but no one knows what career Antonia might have, including her. Read about careers at BLS Career Information or CareerKids. What would you advise Actonia to consider?

  10. Antonia has a lot of questions and conflicts about herself and her relationships with other people. Maybe you do too. Explore It’s My Life.

  11. Gennifer Choldenko answers "most embarrassing questions" about her book. Make a list of 4 to 6 serious questions you would ask if interviewing this author. If you wish, add one "embarrassing question" related to the book.

  12. Listen to the story as read by Ariadne Meyers. This won the AudioFile Earphones Award. Write a paragraph supporting the choice of this audio as a winner. Are there any negative aspects of this audio?
    Notes from a Liar and Her Dog. Listening Library; Unabridged edition (May 2001). ISBN:0807204994.

About the Author


More for the teacher

Discuss how personal experiences can be a starting point for the imagination when writing. Discuss what Gennifer says about this book.
When I got the idea for Notes from a Liar and her Dog, we’d just sold our house in Oakland and moved to this odd little place in Mill Valley. No one liked the new house because it felt like it had been built with a stapler. The cabinet doors fell off when you opened them. The roof leaked in 11 different places. When it was cold, freezing wind blew right through the house and on a pleasantly warm day the place was unbearably hot. A few weeks after we moved in, I woke up in the middle of the night and began writing in the voice of the main character, Ant. I don’t know where Ant came from, but her voice was so urgent she would not let me sleep.

Notes from a Liar and Her Dog is a first person narrative. Discuss this in terms of genre and point of view. Point out similar books available in your school library. Students could try writing a short first person narrative.

Links to other online guides for Notes from a Liar and Her Dog.


Notes from a Liar and Her Dog. Accelerated Reader: Quiz #48680 EN; Book Level 3.8; Points= 7.0
Book Adventure (Sylvan): Quiz Level 6
Reading Counts: Reading Level 4.2; Points= 13.0
Lexile Level 480
Guided Reading Level T
word count= 53267