Happy Honesty Day!
Here we are on the last day of April, celebrating National Honesty Day. ‘Why?’ you ask. Well, it was sometime in the early 1990’s that M.Hirsh Goldberg invented this day while he was working on his book, The Book of Lies: Fibs, Tales, Schemes, Scams, Fakes, and Frauds That Have Changed The Course of History and Affect Our Daily Lives. He chose the last day of April in opposition to the first day of April when people lie and pull pranks on each other. The last day of April is dedicated to giving truthful answers to questions and being completely honest.
As children we learned about truthfulness from our parents and through stories. In the 500’s BC, Aesop told us the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. In 1883, Carlo Collodi told us what happened to Pinocchio when he told a lie. These stories have passed the test of time.
Then we heard a new generation of stories which take a different approach to honesty. Fractured Fairy Tales often give another side of a well-known story, claiming to be the truth, leaving the reader to decide for him/herself what the truth actually is.
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! written by A. Wolf, as told to Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith (1996) gives the reader the other side of the story, not exactly what the pigs would have you believe.
Trust Me, Jack’s Beanstalk Stinks! The Story of Jack and the Beanstalk as told by the Giant written by Eric Braun and illustrated by Cristian Bernardini (2011) tells a completely different version of the traditional fairy tale.
And today we have a completely new approach to honesty and telling the truth in Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat (2012).
In this story the very truthful fish tells us upfront that he has stolen this hat from a larger (and he believes a not very bright) fish. He swims away confident in the fact that he is able to get away with this theft because the big fish will never miss it and even if he does, he will not know where to find him. However, the big fish does miss his hat, does go after the little fish, and does get his hat back… in a somewhat dark and mysterious place where the plants grow tall and close together. The reader sees the little fish enter the grassy area wearing the hat, watches the big fish go in after him, and sees the big fish emerge with his hat on his head and no little fish in sight. Draw your own conclusions.
Whereas Aesop and Collodi taught us to tell the truth because bad things might happen to us if we don’t. Scieszka and Braun taught us to look at both sides of the story to determine the truth. Now Klassen teaches us that telling the truth is fine but it doesn’t excuse bad behavior, and in the end crime still doesn’t pay.