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The Picture Book Buzz

Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive

Though I normally review picture books, I couldn't pass up sharing this amazing book with you. In the current climate of "fake news" and the ever-present fake stories that abound on the internet, this book actively involves kids and adults in learning to determine which stories are true and which ones are false. Happy Book Birthday!

Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive

Authors: Ammi-Joan Paquette & Laurie Ann Thompson

Illustrator: Lisa K Weber

Publisher: Walden Pond Press (2017)

Ages: 8 and up



Animals, truths, lies, curiosity, and skepticism.

Synopsis (From Barnes & Noble):

Two Truths and a Lie is the first book in a fascinating new series that presents some of the most crazy-but-true stories about the living world as well as a handful of stories that are too crazy to be true—and asks readers to separate facts from the fakes!

Did you know that there is a fungus that can control the mind of an ant and make it do its bidding? Would you believe there is such a thing as a corpse flower—a ten-foot-tall plant with a blossom that smells like a zombie? How about a species of octopus that doesn’t live in water but rather lurks in trees in the Pacific Northwest?

Every story in this book is strange and astounding. But not all of them are real. Just like the old game in this book’s title, two out of every three stories are completely true and one is an outright lie. Can you guess which? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable. And they’re all accompanied by dozens of photos, maps, and illustrations. Amaze yourself and trick your friends as you sort out the fakes from the facts!

Acclaimed authors Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson have teamed up to create a series of sneaky stories about the natural world designed to amaze, disgust, and occasionally bamboozle you.

Opening Lines:

For all those who love a good story but aren't afraid to seek the truth.

You should know something right up front: this book is sneaky . . .

this book is not all fiction nor all nonfiction. Instead it is a bit of both.

See? Sneaky.

In every single chapter:

Two of the stories are 100%, cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die TRUTHS

and ONE of the stories is a complete fabrication - a LIE!

Why I Like this Book:

The very next line - "But which is which? Ah, that's where you come in" - sets the stage for an entertaining read. Laurie and Joan have written the three segments in each of the nine chapters so convincingly that it is at times difficult to determine the falsehood. This first book involves biology and life sciences (plants, animals, and people). The second book will involve Social Studies (history, geography, and culture) and the third book's content is tightly under wraps.

In addition to the three cleverly written stories per chapter, Laurie and Joan expanded the fun by including lists of plant facts, plant names, animal group names, under sea creatures, animal facts, dinosaur names, strange and mysterious medical procedures, and illnesses - all which contain one falsehood. Is a cucumber a fruit? Is it a gulp of magpies? Do vampire squids exist? Can you catch monkey pox? Is truth stranger fiction? You'll have to do some research to find out (or look in the Answer Guide provided).

Especially useful to parents and teachers are the "Try This!" and "Take Action" and "Talk It Out" sections (offering ways to expand on the information), the colorful sidebar definition flags, the index, and the Research Guide. This guide offers suggested research options and the challenge to make your first reaction - Show me your source. All very valuable tools for student research and generally surviving in todays "fake news" and internet scam environment.

Although full of photographs, Lisa Weber's added illustrations, especially the lab-coated monkey and his investigative assistant are endearing and captivating. Kids of all ages will enjoy this book, and learn a lot about our strange and wacky world.


Get to Know the Authors:

Ammi-Joan Paquette has traveled to twenty-four countries, has the ability to wake herself up at a given time without an alarm clock, and once climbed Mt. Everest. (Not all of these are true!) Joan is the author of the novels Rules for Ghosting, Paradox, and Nowhere Girl, as well as the picture books Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo, Ghost in the House, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids, and The Tiptoes Guide to Tracking Fairies. She lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she balances her own writing and her day job as a literary agent. You can visit her online at

Laurie Ann Thompson has ridden a pig, gotten stuck in an elevator overnight, and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. (One of these facts is not true; can you guess which?) She is the author of Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, My Dog Is the Best, and Emmanuel's Dream, a picture book biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, which was the recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award and was named an ALA Notable Book, a CCBC Choice, and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, among dozens of other accolades. She lives outside Seattle with her family. You can visit her online at

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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