The Sad Little Fact

Schwartz & Wade Bks/Random/. May 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525581796.
K-Gr 3–The story begins “There was once a fact.” That fact is a cute, fuzzy, blue ball with big eyes. As something with proven veracity, it seems as though there shouldn’t be anything remarkable about the fact. It should be accepted as truth. Instead, the fact is confronted with disbelief and apathy. These are tough enough to stand up to, but then comes those with deliberately insidious intentions. The Authorities, long-limbed and red-gloved, are faceless entities that seek to bury the fact and replace it with more convenient untruths. Hope lies with the “fact finders,” well-intentioned beings armed with hardhats and spades, working to dig out the fact and its brethren. The world is dark when truth is buried, and only by bringing the facts back into the world is brightness restored. The book feels like an obvious response to issues in today’s political and media climate but unfortunately oversimplifies a complex and nuanced topic, without examining the societal and personal circumstances that contribute to individual beliefs. The illustrations are colorful and provide a clear visual contrast between those determined to crush the facts, those determined to bring the facts to light, and the sad little fact itself, emphasizing the threats that exist in this allegorical world. However, just like with the text, adult readers may see real-life and potentially alienating parallels in the illustrations. The ability to evaluate and parse information is an undeniably crucial skill, but on its own this book may be too abstract and far-reaching for picture book audiences. Incorporating critical thinking exercises related to evaluating credibility and accuracy (and even defining those terms), conversations about misinformation online, and extensive follow-up discussions to expand the topic may help provide a more grounded contextual understanding for young readers.
VERDICT Timely and thought-provoking, this book may be challenging for young readers unless partnered with support and critical discussion with adults

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