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The Honest-to-Goodness Truth

The Honest-to-Goodness Truth

4.5 8
by Patricia C. McKissack, Giselle Potter (Illustrator)

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If telling the truth is the right thing to do, why is the whole world mad at Libby?


If telling the truth is the right thing to do, why is the whole world mad at Libby?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Speak the truth and shame the devil," says Libby Louise Sullivan's mother after Libby Louise tells her a fib. Her own shame far outweighs the punishment dealt out by her mother, and Libby Louise vows, "From now on, only the truth." But the girl's strict enforcement of her own rule soon lands her in deep water. She alienates a host of people: her best friend by publicly pointing out a hole in her sock; a classmate by tattling on him; and a neighbor by critiquing her garden. McKissack (Let My People Go) thoroughly examines a common childhood problem--discerning when the truth helps and when it hurts--with homespun language and accessible situations. The intimate settings so integral to Potter's (Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!) folk-art style provide a fitting complement to the author's cozy community. Her depictions of an alternately astonished and contrite Libby Louise, who winds up feeling the sting of truth herself, will likely cause readers to recall their own chagrin in similar circumstances. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
"McKissack thoroughly examines a common childhood problem-discerning when the truth helps and when it hurts-with homespun language and accessible situations," wrote PW. "The intimate settings so integral to Potter's folk-art style provide a fitting complement to the author's cozy community." Ages 4-8. (Jan.)
Telling the truth is a virtue we usually promote vigorously with children. But the subtleties of when to tell it, and how much of it to tell, are not easy for youngsters to grasp. Libby is "surprised at how easy the lie slid out of her mouth, like it was greased with warm butter." Her mother punishes her twice, once for not doing her chore and again for lying about it. Libby decides, "From now on, only the truth." So at church, when everyone is admiring her friend Ruthie Mae's new dress and matching hat, Libby feels obligated to call attention to the hole in Ruthie Mae's sock. In her self-satisfaction, Libby skips blithely away, unaware of how she has hurt her friend's feelings, and confused by her response that "It was plain mean!" And so it goes all day. Libby just has to tell the teacher that "Willie don't got his geography homework." By the end of school she has told many such "truths" and can't understand why no one will talk to her. Even Miz Tusselbury, who assures her that "the truth is never wrong," is hurt when Libby tells her honestly that her yard is more a jungle than a garden. A talk with her sympathetic mother and an encounter with another truth-teller help Libby understand the right and wrong ways to tell the truth. The story is told simply but compellingly, with believable characters and some dialect to add flavor. As a form of morality tale, it seems appropriate for Potter to combine some of the natural details of Libby's environment, like the school blackboard end-papers, with a stylistic directness that emphasizes the human qualities of the telling. The characters tend to have flat, mask-like heads, faces colored from white to chocolate, almost doll-like bodies. Thereis a sense of the untutored in the pencil, ink, gouache, gesso and watercolor illustrations with their rather simplistic perspective, decorative plants, and innocent anatomy. Visually we are very much in Libby's head, perceiving the world through her eyes as she moves through her rural neighborhood and interacts with her friends. This child-structured world is just right to tell a universal story of ethical behavior. 2000, Atheneum, $16.00. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz — The Five Owls, May/June 2000 (Vol. 14 No. 5)
Children's Literature - Charles Wyman
Libby "was surprised at how easy the lie slid out of her mouth, like it was greased with warm butter." Libby is caught not telling the truth and her Mama punishes her. From that day on, Libby vows "From now on, only the truth..." Unfortunately, as Libby soon learns, the truth can sometimes be hurtful and she ends up alienating her best friend, classmates and her favorite neighbor Miz Tusselbury. The humorous illustrations have a folk-art quality, and they make this lesson for young kids quite palatable. Libby and other young readers will get a better understanding of just how and when one should say truthful things, while never losing sight that "the honest-to-goodness truth is never wrong."
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-When Libby Louise's Mama tells her to "Speak the truth and shame the devil," Libby takes the advice too literally, and tells truths wherever she goes. Starting with telling her friend-in public-that there's a hole in her sock, Libby pushes honesty to the hilt both in school and out, about missed homework, embarrassing mistakes and punishments, and messy yards. Her promise to "tell the truth no matter how much it hurt" leaves a trail of wounded feelings and offended people, but Libby doesn't understand the reactions she's getting until her beloved horse is called an "old flea-ridden swayback." The language of the text conveys the flavor of African-American Southern speech patterns, using some colorful similes ("That horse is older than black pepper") but avoiding the use of dialect. The illustrations, in a faux-na f style, are done in soft tones, with browns and greens predominating, evoking the warm feeling of a small country community in which blacks and whites live, go to school, and attend Sunday school together, and everyone knows everyone else. A welcome offering about honesty and consideration.-Marian Drabkin, Richmond Public Library, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Bonnie Fowler
This story will easily evoke much discussion about when and how to tell the truth. Use it to set the tone for character education at the beginning of the school year.
Bookbag Magazine

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Patricia C. McKissack is the author of many highly acclaimed books for children, including Goin' Someplace Special, a Coretta Scott King Award
winner; The Honest-to-Goodness Truth; Let My People Go, written with her
husband, Fredrick, and recipient of the NAACP Image Award; The Dark-Thirty, a Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award winner; and Mirandy and Brother Wind, recipient of the Caldecott Medal and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Giselle Potter is the author and illustrator of The Year I Didn't Go to School, which is based upon her travels around Italy with her family's theater troupe at age seven. She is also the illustrator of The Brave Little Seamstress and Kate and the Beanstalk, both by Mary Pope Osborne, The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia C. McKissack, and Gabriella's Song by Candace Fleming. Ms. Potter lives in Rosendale, New York.

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Honest-to-Goodness Truth 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want to teach children the difference between bare-faced truth and tact, this is the book for you. My students and I love this book.
SoCal_Mami More than 1 year ago
This book was given to my daughter when she was 5 years old. I read this book to her with a southern accent, or at least what I thought was a southern accent. She loved this book and I read it to her every day. My daughter is now 18 and is disappointed that this book became lost sometime ago. I'm buying two copies; one for her, another for me.  Love the story, love the illustrations, love the message. Yes, you can be honest, but you don't have to point out things that might hurt someone's feelings.  Highly recommend!
Rusi1999 More than 1 year ago
The book has a good lesson to it. However, my daughter didn't understand the some of the expressions/slang the author used in the story. Once I explained it to her, she was fine, but it may be difficult for some that are not accustomed to southern slang/expressions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 3 1/2 yr old daughter loves this book and I love to read it to her. Sometimes I have to hide it or else i will have to read it all day every day. I thought she would be to young to understand but she gets it she loves when i use diffreent voices for diffrent charcters. LOVe it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the book The honest-to-goodness truth was a great book. Libby shows that lying is wrong, but also finds that telling the truth sometimes can really be hurtful. Libby learns a lesson by hurting others she cares about because she thought that telling the truth was the right thing to do. Libby's mom tells her 'sometimes the truth is hold at the wrong time or in the wrong way, or for the wrong reasons. And that can be hurtful.' Libby learned her lesson that the honest to goodness truth is never wrong. I really enjoyed this book and I learned a good lesson from Libby about lying and telling the truth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Honest-to-Goodness Truth is the funniest children's book I've read in a long time. Libby is so loveable and the author does a wonderful job of bringing each character to life. Potter's art work is perfect for Libby and her world of family and friends! My four year old son LOVES this book, as do I. I look forward to reading it for a bedtime story and an in between time story as well!