There’s something absolutely amazing about the little book A Big Fat Enormous Lie written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, and illustrated by David McPhail.
The story A Big Fat Enormous Lie, is written as a narrative (meaning the main person –the boy, is telling the story). The boy ate cookies from the cookie jar, and lied that he hadn’t, then afterwards he felt sorry about lying.
The story could have just been that he lied, felt bad about it, then told the truth, and then that would have been the end. However, this book vividly explored the narrator’s (the boy) feelings and imagination! In his imagination, the lie took on an image that had a face, hands and feet—the Lie became alive!
Even though the boy can’t see the Lie, the reader can. This made the narrator’s imagination come alive to the reader. The illustrations help to show what the boy thought the Lie looked like – almost like an ogre, and the more he thought about it, the uglier it became. The Lie stopped existing as a lie, and more as the Lie, a living breathing thing with a name! The more he spoke to it, the more it seemed to grow and wouldn’t go away!
Why do you think that suddenly in the story the Lie became more and more enormous and ugly? Was that just the boy’s imagination? Or was it that the more he thought about it, the more fearful he became about telling the truth?
Then the Lie sat on him! Did that really happen or was that symbolic too? The boy knew he had to tell the truth, and the thought of it might have tied his stomach in knots, therefore, the weight of the guilt might have felt like a 500 ton ogre sitting in the middle of his stomach!
What’s amazing about this story is that the narrator, feeling sorry for himself, saw that he was stuck with the Lie and decided to persuade the Lie to go away! So he began to talk aloud to the Lie! In talking he realized that he was far too smart and too nice to lie! Then the boy decided to tell the truth, and in doing so the Lie began to shrink smaller and smaller, until he disappeared—when the narrator told the absolute truth. The story ended with the boy’s decision not to ever have the Lie ’visit’ him again.
Key Points to Consider:
1. Why do you think that the writer did not mention the boy’s name? Do you think that maybe because this could have been a story about anyone?
2. What were some of the actions of the Lie when the boy was telling the truth?
Note to Parents:
A Big Fat Enormous Lie is available at the Four County Library System; Cannon Free Library; Louise Adelia Read Memorial Library; Richfield Springs Public Library; and Stamford Village Library.
For your own child’s collection, check RiverRead Books at 5 Court Street, Downtown Binghamton; or log on to www.riverreadbooks.com