TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: Practice Recognizing Fake News

Cindy: There have been a number of YA fiction books with the title “Two Truths and a Lie,” but we’ve found a creative, informational book for middle-grade students that reinforces evaluating information for truth. Fake news, anyone?

Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive (2017) by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson is the first book in a fun new series designed to help students discern truth from falsehood. This installment focuses on the natural world, with sections about plants, animals, and humans. Each section contains several chapters, and each chapter contains three articles about crazy, natural oddities. Two of these articles are complete truths, but one story is a fabrication. . . or part fabrication.

The fabrications aren’t easy to spot. I missed a few as I tried to answer without doing any research or fact-checking. Some of the fake stories have elements of truth used in a way that creates a false whole. To make things even harder, the illustrative matter—maps, photographs, diagrams, and highlighted glossary words—lend plausibility to the article. Lisa K. Weber’s cartoonish illustrations, coupled with the book’s colorful graphic design, makes the package even more appealing. Students are encouraged to research the topics, including some on noted hoax sites, and use their investigative and web-research skills to ferret out the fake from the factual.

Each chapter also includes bonus material, like quizzes about the topic. (Example: “Which of the following is not a group name for a set of animals?” I love that one of the choices is “an implausibility of gnus.”) There are also activity boxes sprinkled throughout the chapters to extend the possibilities for using this book in a classroom.

Lynn found this gem at our local public library, but I advocate purchasing it for all elementary and middle-school libraries to use in library or classroom information literacy instruction—or just fun leisure reading. I can’t wait for the next book.

Lynn: Ready to give it a try? Which of the following is actually real: a book lice-eating scorpion, a tiny snake that lives inside the ears of wild dogs and improves their hearing, or limpet teeth made of the strongest biological material ever discovered? I aced some of these, but most articles had me digging into research. These are tricky!

Written in a gee-whiz, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not style, these puzzles are impossible to resist. I couldn’t help but read just one more set of choices, and then another, and another. I think kids are going to love this! The book is so visually appealing that it won’t be hard to lure readers in, and then they will be hooked. Who would have imagined a research / instruction book could be so much fun?

The terrific back matter includes a research guide written in the same enthusiastic style with solid advice on how to do the research to get to the answers. The authors also provide an answer guide and a totally enticing bibliography packed with related articles.

The second in the series, Two Truths and a Life: Histories and Mysteries, is due out in June of 2018. I can’t wait!

About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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