The Truth According to Arthur
by Tim Hopgood (author) and David Tazzyman (illustrator), published by Bloomsbury Children’s

“You’re joking, aren’t you daddy?”, said our three and a half year old this week when I told her she’d only grow big and strong if she ate her mushy peas as well as her fish fingers.

My wife and I recall that, before her third birthday, the task of gaining her cooperation used to be a lot simpler; something of a golden age in this regard, a time when she rarely challenged our contorted reasoning, usually took our answers as unequivocal fact, and it was relatively straight forward to persuade her to do something we asked.

Since turning 3, we’ve found that our use of the previously occasional white lie has become more of a go to staple in our parenting toolbox – despite us being ever so keen to teach our daughters about the importance of telling the truth.

In the deserted park on a drizzly morning: “We have to go home now so that the other children can enjoy the swing”.

When our daughter discovers an empty packet of choc ices: “This is from the vegetables mummy and daddy had with our dinner last night”.

After dad accidentally breaks one of her crayons in half while drawing a Diplodocus far too enthusiastically: “Well, you have two now, so that’s better isn’t it??”

Her straight-faced reply: “You’re joking, daddy”.

With our daughter’s increasing scepticism at our half-truths and porky pies, Tim Hopgood and David Tazzyman’s terrific new picturebook, ‘The Truth According to Arthur’, could not be more timely in our lives. It’s a delightful and humorous tale of a young boy who literally and figuratively tries to bend, stretch, disguise and hide his nemesis, ‘the Truth’.

After wobbling off his brother’s bike and bashing it into his mother’s car, he tries to contort and conceal the Truth in various ways to cover his tracks. After three friends fail to see how his revised versions of events will get him off the hook with his mum, he looks the Truth straight in the eye and does something that surprises himself – he owns up – and in doing so finds a good friend in the Truth.

This is a gentle and persuasive tale about why telling the truth is always the best option. Its narrative is fun and reassuring, with a clever visual use of verbs and thought bubbles. The illustrations are warm and inviting, and ‘the Truth’ is a particularly memorable and innovative character. Truly a book that will be enjoyed and appreciated by readers of all ages.

P.S. We’re big fans of Tim Hopgood’s storytelling and illustration (our daughters love ‘Wow! Said the Owl’ and ‘Walter’s Wonderful Web’, both reviewed earlier). It’s fabulous that a selection of beautiful prints from ‘Wow! Said the Owl’ and ‘What a Wonderful World’ are now available through Tim’s new website ‘HopShop’.