June 18

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SEEK THE TRUTH, BUT GIVE IT TIME by Ammi-Joan Paquette

When Laurie Ann Thompson and I do school visit presentations based on our TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE book series, one of the things we like to start with is reading our author bios, as printed in the first book in the series, Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! Each of us included three “fun facts” about ourselves, but (you saw this coming!): two of those “facts” were true and one was false.

 

In my case, this goes as follows: Ammi-Joan Paquette . . .

 

  • has the ability to wake herself up on demand without an alarm clock;
  • has traveled to 27 countries;
  • once climbed Mount Everest.

 

At the end of my presentation, I ask the students to vote on which one they think is the fake fact—for which #3 is the generally chosen favorite (and accurate). At this point, I tell them a story.

 

It’s Alive! was published in 2017. In 2018, my daughter and I set off on a “bucket list” adventure (her bucket, I should clarify) trekking to the Mount Everest Basecamp. I cannily saw that this would be a great chance to switch my #3 fake into a truth (note that I did not say ‘summit’ Everest, only ‘climb’!). Luckily, I had a long overnight layover in Dubai, which brought my total countries to 28. So, #2 would now be the fake and #3 would be the truth. Victory!

 

Unluckily, halfway into our trek, my daughter badly sprained her ankle, and we had to turn back—without making it to the actual grounds of Everest. Alas! This bio now contains two fakes and only one truth. (Life, as I always point out, is not nearly so tidy as fiction can be!)

 

This story is a bit of a diversion, and of course the kids enjoy seeing the photos from our trek. But the underlying point I am leading to is this: truth can be a changeable thing. Just because a fact is true today, or was true yesterday, or last week, does not mean it will always be so tomorrow, or next week, or a year from now. A cross-my-heart fact delivered by an author a decade ago could be a pure lie today.

 

We co-authors saw this firsthand more than once as we worked on stories for TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE. Within It’s Alive, we included a fully made-up article about a successful operation transplanting a human head onto a donor body. Not long after the book’s publication, news agencies announced a projected operation to do this very thing—complete with a willing human subject. In April 2019, the subject reportedly backed out of undergoing this operation, but a New York Post article indicates that two surgeons are ready to get the process rolling again. The specific story as published within It’s Alive will always be fake, of course; but how long before the procedure itself becomes true—or even commonplace?

 

In the newest—and final—volume in the TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE series, Forces of Nature, we saw this happen more than ever, since the book deals with the most cutting-edge aspects of our world: the groundbreaking fields of physics, technology, and space travel, amongst others. More than one topic we originally began researching as a fake (and which would have been just a year or so ago; perhaps when that topic was put on our idea list!) has since become a true thing that existed in the world. And so some of these stories took on an entirely different shape than we’d anticipated.

 

Such is the growing and changing nature of the world we live in! And that’s why, when talking to groups of students, I have to emphasize not only the need for them to research facts and check sources for material they take in, but also to consider the effect that time has on this information. Truth is truth, undoubtedly—but that same truth can also change with the passage of time. And that’s why a sense of curiosity and a healthy skepticism is an important thing for each of us to carry on into our lives. This world we live in is fundamentally changeable, subject to growth and input—and just like any other form of technology, our own beliefs and knowledge base need periodic updates, or they will quickly become out of date.

 

All of that said, my daughter and I have planned a redo on our Everest Basecamp Trek. One of these years soon, I’m gonna bring that bio back up to peak accuracy. And that’s no lie!

 

AMMI-JOAN PAQUETTE has squeezed past yaks on narrow cliff edges, chased a ball of liquid mercury around the classroom, and always dreams in black and white. (Two of these facts are 100% true!) She is the author of The Train of Lost Things, the Princess Juniper series, and many more. She is also the recipient of a PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award honor. Joan lives outside Boston. You can visit her online at www.ajpaquette.com.

 

Two Truths and a Lie: Forces of Nature
by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson

There’s something reassuring about opening a nonfiction book and knowing that all the stories and people you will read about are real; that everything between those covers is entirely factual. There’s also something exciting about opening a novel and knowing that all the stories and people you will read about inside are imaginary; in that world, there is no limit to the adventures that can take place.

 

But what if you could blend up a delicious bookshake to combine the very best of both of these elements?

 

Welcome to Two Truths and a Lie—the book series that tells you to think, not what to think!

Here’s the scoop: Every scintillating, science-packed chapter in this book contains three stories. Two of these stories are 100% true and you can believe them fully. But one of the stories . . . is not. Beware of that story! It might contain true bits, might name actual people or events or explain true concepts. But in every chapter, there will be one story that overall—its main point, direction, or idea—is fake, false, kaput.

 

The task set before you is simple: Read. Reflect. Research. And then pass judgment on what you have read. Is the story true or false? Fact or fake? Cross your heart or cross your fingers?

Once you think you’ve got it figured out, you can flip on over to the back of the book to check your answers. But don’t peek ahead . . . you wouldn’t want to spoil the fun, would you?

 

We’re not gonna lie (about this, anyway)—digging up the truth will be a challenge! But isn’t that true of most of the best things in life?