The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story

illus. by Peter Willis. 32p. chron. glossary. Mims House. Sept. 2017. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9781629440828; pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781629440835.
Gr 2–4—The creators of Burn: Michael Faraday's Candle are back with an exploration of a 1937 hoax in Nantucket involving a sea monster—shaped Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. The hoax was orchestrated by Tony Sarg, famed creator of the parade balloons, along with the Nantucket Publicity Committee and various media outlets. The text includes quotes taken from newspaper articles from Nantucket's The Mirror and Inquirer. Pattison's narrative zips along with brief descriptions of the reported sightings. The content is age-appropriate and does not assume a prior knowledge of how news is reported, but some of the vocabulary includes terms such as credibility. Willis's colorful renderings use a variety of media and help to draw readers into the story. There are several different fonts and font sizes used but all are large enough to be easily read by the audience. Illustrations generally cover both pages of a spread, leaving very little white space; however, the backgrounds are generally light. In cases where the background is darker, the text is white. Back matter includes a brief discussion of the role of a free press.
VERDICT This title discusses the issue of fake news in an age-appropriate way while avoiding politics; most useful in a classroom setting, perhaps in conjunction with Melissa Sweet's Balloons Over Broadway.

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