With the phrase “fake news” being tossed around a great deal these days, this collection of stories in which one out of every three is a lie is both timely and entertaining.
Divided into three parts under the categories “Hazy Histories,” “Peculiar Places,” and “Perplexing People,” each chapter features three bizarre stories, two of which are true and one false. Readers must determine through research which stories are false (or flip to the back to find out). Some fake stories have a foundational basis in fact, while others are outright fabrications. Readers are challenged to determine the verity of Boilerplate, an early robot that participated in the Spanish-American War and the Boxer Rebellion in China; of Dog Island, a place off the coast of Florida where over 2,500 formerly domesticated pooches have been “rewilded”; and of the village of Nagoro, Japan, which is populated by hundreds of life-size dolls. Manipulated photographs enhance credibility, and the true stories matched with the false are strange enough to make it difficult to discern the real from the fake. Readers spurred to research which story is false are given some tips. The authors acknowledge the pitfalls of internet research and relying on Wikipedia, but a little oddly, there are no references to specific sources that debunk hoaxes and false news reports.
Readers with a taste for trivia and the strange-but-true aspects of geography and history will find much to enjoy. (photos, source notes) (Nonfiction. 10-14)