Princess Kim and Too Much Truth segues from the tangled web of white lies in its prequel, Princess K.I.M. and the Lie That Grew, to shades of honesty as experienced by gingery strawberry blonde Kim Worthington at her new school, Nutley Elementary School, and at home. Though small in size, Kim’s new hometown of Greenville is rich in experiences for her. In this charmingly illustrated sequel, Kim takes honesty to heart and goes to extremes to tell the truth as a counterpoint to her previous escapades with self-perpetuating white lies.
In room 312, Mrs. Della’s classroom, Kim listens attentively as her teacher emphasizes the importance of honesty. That evening Kim ponders her nickname of Princess, which she ascertains to be misleading since she is not of royal birth. In the morning, Kim shares with her father her intention of complete honesty.
Kim’s father appends to his encouraging response the long familiar nickname, which Kim promptly rejects. Waving a forkful of pancakes doused with New Hampshire’s best syrup in her left hand, Kim feels compelled to point out the rubberiness of her dad’s breakfast offering.
In the hallway Kim encounters Grandma Betty, who unfortunately asks for her granddaughter’s opinion of her new handmade necklace. With stark honesty, Kim unfavorably compares the necklace to slimy rocks in her fish tank.
As Grandma Betty tries to hand over Kim’s pink backpack with its letter P for Princess and its golden crown, Kim announces her intention of tossing out all of her Princess-themed possessions and favors a plain brown paper bag for carrying school paraphernalia.
Kim proceeds to blaze a hurtful trail of unfiltered honesty throughout the day. On the school bus, Kim offends her classmate Samantha by likening her new hairstyle to her Aunt Mary’s poodle Fifi. In the schoolyard, Kim’s dislike of frogs prevents her from appreciating Violet’s bright yellow boots which are covered with the playful amphibians in cheery green and orange colors. Violet pretends to be a frog as she jumps in a puddle and then tracks mud into the classroom, which Mrs. Della then has to mop. Kim immediately tattles on Violet.
Truth-based blurts continue to escape from Kim. In music class, she complains that classical music puts her to sleep. In art class, she disdains Sara’s wire sculpture as reminiscent of moldy spaghetti. During poetry painting show-and-tell, Kim lambastes Kevin for not really being an astronaut and rejects his imagery of touching stars as an impossibility. Confusion reigns. Although Kim complies with Mrs. Della’s gesture to zip her mouth shut, she is mystified by disheartened reactions to her truth-based words. Dispirited Kevin sputters that the pretend game is for fun and reminds Kim of her pretending to be a princess.
The final straw occurs with a visit from Mrs. Bell with her newborn. Jason coos about her cuteness. Samantha marvels over her tiny fingers curling over her pink blanket. Eagerly Mrs. Bell turns to Kim and innocently invites Kim’s thoughts. Failing in her efforts to keep quiet, Kim blares that the drooling, funny-faced, squishy baby is the all-time ugliest infant she has ever come across.
A ruckus ensues as Kim’s classmates gasp, Mrs. Bell seems on the verge of tears, and the baby wails. Owning up to Mrs. Della for her honesty-based responsibility in disrupting Mrs. Bell’s visit, Kim is perplexed by her teacher’s explanation of the necessity for softening the truth through the filter of kindness in order to avoid hurt feelings with too much truth.
During snacks, Kim seeks solace from Violet, who enlightens her puzzled friend about shades of truth. Violet advises finding one thing to like and complimenting that aspect in order to speak the truth. No lie is told, and no one’s feelings are hurt.
Backtracking, Kim finds that she likes the way Violet is able to jump in puddles in frog-themed boots and that Kevin’s spaceship inspires dreams of flying to the moon. Contritely apologizing to Mrs. Bell, Kim adds that the newborn has a nice, floral fragrance. Pleased with Kim’s genuine contrition, Mrs. Bell points out the importance of focusing on good things because truthfully her baby sometimes does not have a nice smell. Kim happily accepts Mrs. Bell’s suggestion that she cuddle the infant.
At bedtime Kim recites the events of her day for Grandma Betty and seeks to undo her earlier, disparaging appraisal of her grandmother’s newly acquired necklace by focusing on its colors. After having made heartfelt amends with everyone else, Kim now looks to herself to repair her personal loss caused by too much honesty. Giving away her princess-themed possessions deprives her of make-believe fun, and Kim now can enjoy playtime as a princess because she understands the difference between truth, pretending, and lying.
Published in 2011 by the Midwestern publishing firm of Albert Whitman & Company, Princess Kim and Too Much Truth skillfully tackles shades of truth, the flip side of white lies, with heart-warming prose and engaging illustrations which are drawn with the series’ trademark purple outlines. Both concepts provide baffling twists to children as they learn to find a healthy balance between honesty and kindness and between truth and fantasy.
Cocca-Leffer, Maryann. Princess Kim and Too Much Truth. Chicago, IL: Albert Whitman & Company, 2011.
“Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts.” Department Collection. The Fitzwilliam Museum. http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/dept/msspb/collection/medievalmanuscripts.html