At some point, eventually, everyone will lie, even if it is a seemingly ‘harmless’ white lie — and that’s the truth. As much as we’d like to believe that we can prevent our children from ever lying for whatever reason, it’s probably unrealistic to expect them to live up to our lofty ideals, especially given that our society practically runs on a murky mix of truths, half-truths and outright lies. So, do we just lie back (pun not intended) and hope for the best? Of course not. As with our parents, and their parents before them, it’s our job to continue to do everything we can — nag, coerce, lecture — to teach kids to do what’s right, and hope that they grow up to be honest, if not 100 percent of the time, then at least 90 percent — and especially when it matters most.
As always, books are a great way to reinforce positive behaviour and provide a platform for discussion on the relevant topics. So to that end, Doug-Dennis and the Flyaway Fib is a lighthearted and modern take on the perils of lying.
In this book, two best friends Doug-Dennis and Ben-Bobby are at the circus when the former gobbles up his friend’s popcorn while he wasn’t looking. Instead of confessing, however, Doug-Dennis tells a familiar fib: “It wasn’t me!” As he continues to lie, however, he finds himself getting carried away — literally — to a dark, lonely space where all the other habitual liars are stuck at with their ever-growing lies. The only way back, of course, is to simply tell the truth.
The most refreshing thing about this unusual cautionary tale is how it doesn’t seek to condemn liars by marking them out to be black sheep, unlike The Boy Who Cried Wolf, for instance. Instead, it uses an exaggerated but effective brand of humour to show children how small fibs can grow and snowball into big lies, and how lying can cause people to become estranged from their loved ones. I also liked the ending, which emphasises that redemption is at hand, as long as one is willing to change for the better — that is, it’s never too late to tell the truth.
Note: The offbeat humour and quirky storyline will appeal best to older preschoolers and beyond.