Review of Killer Underwear Invasion!: How to Spot Fake News, Disinformation & Conspiracy Theories

Killer Underwear Invasion!: How to Spot Fake News, Disinformation & Conspiracy Theories
by Elise Gravel; illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Chronicle    88 pp.    g
9/22    978-1-7972-1491-7    $14.99

Two jelly bean–shaped creatures, one blue, one pink, delve into the intricacies and duplicity behind one of the most insidious and pervasive issues of our time, and the first chapter of this middle-grade comic dives right in: “What Is Fake News?” Gravel (Arlo & Pips, rev. 1/21) does a fine job breaking down complex ideas, beginning with the definition of news (“information about important stuff that’s happening in the world right now”) and explaining that while disinformation is not new (“Hear ye, hear ye! An evil magician turned the king into a goat!”), the internet and other modern technologies have made it much easier to make lies look real and to intentionally spread them. The hows and whys are explored using specific, goofy fictional case studies; and people’s motives (e.g., “Reason 1: To make money…Reason 2: To make money and get famous,” etc.) are plainly laid out. Though the examples aren’t necessarily serious, the consequences are: “So far, I have given you a bunch of silly examples of fake news,” says the pink protagonist, “but fake news is not funny at all. It can actually be very dangerous.” The tone is non-blame-y of consumers (but not purveyors) of fake news, with acknowledgment of the ease of being duped (“Admit it—you’d be curious, too”) and useful advice about thinking critically, examining sources, etc. Well-delineated panel illustrations featuring blobby critters and pastel colors make these thorny concepts relatively easy to get and should leave many readers feeling empowered.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is acting editor in chief / executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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