Hello, friends! Our book today is The Sad Little Fact, written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Pete Oswald, a fable about the confusing misinformation of modern times.
There was once a sad little fact… except, no one took him seriously. Most simply ignored him, but some actually tried to claim he was not a fact, but a lie. Little Fact tried not to let this deter him, stating that “a fact is a fact”, but when The Authorities declare him to be a lie, he is locked in a box with other facts and buried deep underground. Meanwhile, the same Authorities begin manufacturing lies and declaring them facts, and these lies wreak havoc on the world above. At last, a group of Fact Finders search for the Facts, finding them in their box and setting them free upon the world. And while there are still some who will not believe in them, the facts begin to help the world heal through their knowledge of the truth – after all, a fact is a fact.
This is an inventive concept for a picture book, to be sure – in the age of fake news and dangerous misinformation, it’s very easy to see what inspired this tale. Indeed, some of the facts are silly (“a refrigerator is not a moose”) many allude to modern debates over misinformation (“dinosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago”, or “People are causing the Earth to get warmer”). However, this concept quickly begins to fall apart, due mostly to the direction and tone the narrative takes. Indeed, the story reads more like a satire for adults than an earnest picture book for kids. The shadowy “Authories” are introduced without much explanation as to their motives – it’s an allusion that adults will understand but will have little ones scratching their heads. There are also elements, such as the adorable, wide-eyes Facts being literally BURIED ALIVE that are just downright disturbing; not in a “makes you think” way, but in a “mommy, am I going to be locked up if I tell the truth?” way. The illustrations are creative, colorful and visually interesting, and the length is fine, but JJ seemed genuinely confused by the adult tone. It’s an interesting concept, but this is just not the best way to introduce it to little bookworms.