Giselle Potter

Book Review: The Honest-to-Goodness Truth

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the Honest-to-Goodness Truth 

by Patricia C. McKissack

illustrated by Giselle Potter

Ages 6-8, 40 pages

Realistic Fiction

Libby rushes to visit her friend, but before she leaves her Mama questions if she fed the horse. At first, Libby lies but then tells the truth that she would do it later. The lie felt so awful that she promises to herself that she’ll only tell the truth. However, Libby’s ‘honesty’ goes too far when she tells the truth about sensitive issues and doesn’t think about other’s feelings. Her best friend wore a new dress to church, but Libby points out that there’s a hole in her sock. She blurts to the teacher that a classmate didn’t do his homework. Libby tells the class that a student didn’t have enough lunch money. She even hurts the neighbor’s feelings when she states her yard looks like a jungle. Libby is confused, because she thought the truth was always right. Finally, her Mama explains that “Sometimes the truth is told at the wrong time or in the wrong way, or for the wrong reasons. And that can be hurtful. But the honest-to-goodness truth is never wrong.” Libby understands that she could have whispered to only her friend that there was a hole in the sock and let the teacher deal with the classmate with no homework.

the Honest-to-Goodness Truth highlights Southern conversations and sayings. “She was surprised at how easy the lie slide out of her mouth, like it was greased with warm butter.” Telling the truth and being honest is often difficult for children to obey. Some are even tattle tellers who tell everything about everyone, which causes many not to want to be their friend. This book teaches that sometimes you don’t need to tell the whole truth and some issues may not be something you should discuss. I often say that if you really want an honest opinion then ask a child. Also, this book focuses upon an African American girl and others in her community, which unfortunately you don’t often find in picture books.

About 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.

The Boy Who Loved Words

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The Boy Who Loved Words

by Roni Schotter, illustrated by Giselle Potter

Ages 7-10, 40 pages

Some children collect feathers, shells, or stones, but Selig collects words. Whenever Selig hears a new word he enjoys, he quickly writes it on a piece of paper and stuffs it into his pockets. Most children play ball or jump rope outside, however Selig listens and watches words used to then add to his growing word collection. Classmates call him Wordsworth and hurt his feeling when they call him an oddball. Even his parents are puzzled by his word collection. Selig has an unusual dream with a genie who declares that he isn’t an oddball, but is a lover of words. Immediately, Selig awakes and realizes his purpose is to share his words with others. For example, he adds the words sprinkles, scrumptious, luscious, and morsels to a bakery. Eventually, Selig meets his match with a girl who sings words.

The Boy Who Loved Words contains wonderful words and introduces new vocabulary. Amazon.com lists this book for ages 4-8, but I think even older children can utilize this book. The language is more complex with short paragraphs on each page. This is an excellent book to teach with writing and throw away boring words. The book provides a glossary with all the descriptive words. I wrote another word collector book review, Max’s Words, which I suggest for younger ages.

Selig loved everything about words – the sound of them in his ears (tintinnabulating!), the taste of them on his tongue (tantalizing!), the thought of them when they percolated in his brain (stirring!), and, most especially, the feel of them when they moved his heart (Mama!).

– Roni Schotter (The Boy Who Loved Words, page 2)