The Pudding Problem (Lyttle Lies #1)

The Pudding Problem (Lyttle Lies #1)
Age Range
Release Date
May 09, 2017
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A boy must untangle the web of lies he’s created in order to prove his innocence when strange things start happening in this humorous and cheeky illustrated middle grade novel in the tradition of the Timmy Failure series.

Sam Lyttle is prone to stretching the truth. Most of his lies are harmless; tall tales and the product of an overactive imagination. So when Sam is summoned to explain a strange discovery—a ping-pong ball in a jar of peanut butter—and denies involvement, no one believes him. Then more seemingly unrelated peculiarities emerge, and Sam categorically denies any knowledge of those, too.

In between these mysterious accusations, and with evidence mounting against him, Sam ruminates on the different sorts of lies he has told using examples from his past. Meanwhile, two pounds of potatoes wind up in the washing machine.

Sam comes to a decision: he decides it is time to come clean about this latest tangled web. He gathers his family to hear the truth. The whole truth. Or is it? Could it be that this final “truth” is, in fact, another lie?

Editor review

1 review
A British Big Nate
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Sam doesn't tell the truth as much as he should, so his mother is not sure who broke her prized dog statue... or put a ping pong ball in the peanut butter... or stole his grandfather's home grown potatoes. Sam even has trouble with the truth at school, but his bigger problem there is the class bully who has "dead eyes", has his sister deliver a juicy cheeseburger every day for his lunch, and makes classmates "pay" if they run afoul of him. Sam rescues a cat, Pudding, from the bully, but the cat has some issues. Pudding occasionally pees in things and gets wild, but has huge, innocent eyes that endear him even to Sam's frazzled mother. Sam would really like a cheeseburger for lunch, but gets cheese on bread every day, and his grandfather (a magician) teaches him to visualize that this sandwich is really something more delicious. His grandfather later comes to the rescue with the more serious problem of Sam's lying.
Good Points
This is a Notebook Novel with definite British tones to it, but like Pichon's Tom Gates: Excellent Excuses (and Other Good Stuff), the charming pictures and goofy tale of a boy who means well but often gets off on the wrong foot make this a book that fans of Peirce's Big Nate will adore. This has very little text in paragraphs, and at times reads very much like a comic book.

Sam's family is great-- even his sister is supportive. His father plays jazz guitar and annoys the family, his mother is frequently in overdrive mode, and Sam's grandfather spends a lot of time on his allotment, growing radishes. He has a shed there where he can make tea, and the picture and description of it made me want to have one of my own!

Tweens often struggle with doing what's right and telling the truth when doing so is inconvenient for them, and The Pudding Problem shows how one young boy struggles to deal with a difficult classmate, rescue an animal, and manage all of his activities while keeping himself out of trouble. Perhaps it was Pudding's big eyes that made this so appealing, but I enjoyed this tremendously!
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