Cover image for Porch lies : tales of slicksters, tricksters, and other wily characters
Porch lies : tales of slicksters, tricksters, and other wily characters
McKissack, Pat, 1944-2017.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Schwartz & Wade Books, [2006]

Physical Description:
xii, 146 pages : illustrations ; 28 cm
When Pete Bruce came to town -- Change -- The devil's guitar -- Aunt Gran and the outlaws -- By the weight of a feather -- A grave situation -- The best lie ever told -- The earth bone and the King of the Ghosts -- Cake Norris lives on.
Reading Level:
790 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.8 5.0 108714.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.5 9 Quiz: 39717 Guided reading level: R.
Added Author:


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.M1875 POR 2006 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.1.M1875 POR 2006 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.1.M1875 POR 2006 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PZ8.1.M1875 POR 2006 Juvenile Non-Fiction Picture Books
PZ8.1.M1875 POR 2006 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Side-splittingly funny, spine-chillingly spooky, this companion to a Newbery Honor-winning anthology The Dark Thirty is filled with bad characters who know exactly how to charm.

From the author's note that takes us back to McKissack's own childhood when she would listen to stories told on her front porch... to the captivating introductions to each tale, in which the storyteller introduces himself and sets the stage for what follows... to the ten entertaining tales themselves, here is a worthy successor to McKissack's The Dark Thirty . In " The Best Lie Ever Told ," meet Dooley Hunter, a trickster who spins an enormous whopper at the State Liar's contest. In " Aunt Gran and the Outlaws," watch a little old lady slickster outsmart Frank and Jesse James. And in " Cake Norris Lives On," come face to face with a man some folks believe may have died up to twenty-seven different times!

Author Notes

Patricia C. McKissack was born in Smyrna, Tennessee on August 9, 1944. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Tennessee State University in 1964 and a master's degree in early childhood literature and media programming from Webster University in 1975. After college, she worked as a junior high school English teacher and a children's book editor at Concordia Publishing.

Since the 1980's, she and her husband Frederick L. McKissack have written over 100 books together. Most of their titles are biographies with a strong focus on African-American themes for young readers. Their early 1990s biography series, Great African Americans included volumes on Frederick Douglass, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson. Their other works included Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers and Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States. Over their 30 years of writing together, the couple won many awards including the C.S. Lewis Silver Medal, a Newbery Honor, nine Coretta Scott King Author and Honor awards, the Jane Addams Peace Award, and the NAACP Image Award for Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman?. In 1998, they received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

She also writes fiction on her own. Her book included Flossie and the Fox, Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt, A Friendship for Today, and Let's Clap, Jump, Sing and Shout; Dance, Spin and Turn It Out! She won the Newberry Honor Book Award and the King Author Award for The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural in 1993 and the Caldecott Medal for Mirandy and Brother Wind. She dead of cardio-respiratory arrest on April 7, 2017 at the age of 72.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-5. Like McKissack's award-winning The Dark Thirty 0 (1992), the nine original tales in this uproarious collection draw on African American oral tradition and blend history and legend with sly humor, creepy horror, villainous characters, and wild farce. McKissack based the stories on those she heard as a child while sitting on her grandparents' porch; now she is passing them on to her grandchildren. Without using dialect, her intimate folk idiom celebrates the storytelling among friends, neighbors, and family as much as the stories themselves. "Some folk believe the story; some don't. You decide for yourself." Is the weaselly gravedigger going to steal a corpse's jewelry, or does he know the woman is really still alive? Can bespectacled Aunt Gran outwit the notorious outlaw Jesse James? In black and white, Carrilho's full-page illustrations--part cartoon, part portrait in silhouette--combine realistic characters with scary monsters. History is always in the background (runaway slaves, segregation cruelty, white-robed Klansmen), and in surprising twists and turns that are true to trickster tradition, the weak and exploited beat powerful oppressors with the best lies ever told. Great for sharing, on the porch and in the classroom. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2006 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

As McKissack (The Dark-Thirty) opens this treasure chest of tales, she recalls spending summer evenings on her grandparents' front porch in Nashville, where her grandfather and visitors would share spellbinding "porch lies," comically exaggerated stories that often centered on rogues and rascals. The author then presents her own variations on such yarns, "expand[ing] the myths, legends, and historical figures who often appear in the African American oral tradition" to create a sparkling array of porch lies, brimming with beguiling tricksters. McKissack sets the domestic scene for each by describing the porch visitor who first related the tale. A standout features wise, sassy Aunt Gran, who outsmarts Frank and Jesse James, manipulating the bandits into running out of town the racist villain who salted her well in hopes of procuring her property. Other memorable characters include the conniving used-car salesman who is brought to judgment quite humorously on the eve of his wedding; the truth-twisting fellow who wins the liars' contest at the state fair with the line, "I aine never told a lie before"; and a famous blues harmonica player, who wreaks such havoc in the holding station en route to heaven-or the alternative-that he's sent back to earth. Aunt Gran, slyly telling the James brothers a tale that will convince them to help her, notes, "Some folk believe the story; some don't. You decide for yourself." Readers of these spry tall tales will have a grand time doing just that. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-These 10 literate stories make for great leisure listening and knowing chuckles. Pete Bruce flatters a baker out of a coconut cream pie and a quart of milk; Mingo may or may not have anything smaller than a 100-dollar bill to pay his bills; Frank and Jesse James, or "the Howard boys," help an old woman against the KKK-ish Knights of the White Gardenia; and Cake Norris wakes up dead one day-again. Carrilho's eerie black-and-white illustrations, dramatically off-balance, lit by moonlight, and elongated like nightmares, are well-matched with the stories. The tales are variously narrated by boys and girls, even though the author's preface seems to set readers up for a single, female narrator in the persona of McKissack herself. They contain the "essence of truth but are fiction from beginning to end," an amalgam of old stories, characters, jokes, setups, and motifs. As such, they have no provenance. Still, it would have helped readers unfamiliar with African-American history to have an author's note helping separate the "truth" of these lies that allude to Depression-era African-American and Southern traditions. That aside, they're great fun to read aloud and the tricksters, sharpies, slicksters, and outlaws wink knowingly at the child narrators, and at us foolish humans.-Susan Hepler, formerly at Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.