by Gail Jarrow
October 30, 1938: Listeners across the United States tuned in to the weekly Mercury Theater radio show, for which Orson Welles and John Houseman chose books for adaption into 60-minute scripts complete with music, sound effects, and voice actors. This week, the book was H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, a sci-fi novel about a Martian attack on Earth; the adaptation was set in New Jersey. Shortly after the broadcast began, it became apparent that a surprising number of listeners were mistaking the show for live news. Calls flooded the studio and came into police stations across the country as people believed the attack was real. Jarrow describes the development of the program that week before she moves rivetingly through the night’s broadcast, comparing real time to the condensed time that elapsed in the show, before exploring the aftermath, including the public’s highly varied and emotional response. She notes that it’s difficult to determine how widespread the panic actually was, because the mythology began almost immediately, fed by widespread coverage and first- person accounts of the event. With a design that expertly brings together the disparate elements of this event, this book examines the power of hoaxes (even unintentional ones), misinformation, and the media. A fascinating account that is also timely for today. (Ages 10–14)
CCBC Choices 2019. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019. Used with permission.
This book for young readers explores in riveting detail the false panic created by the famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast from 1938 -- as well as the repercussions of "fake news" today.
On the night of October 30, 1938, thousands of Americans panicked when they believed that Martians had invaded Earth. What appeared to be breaking news about an alien invasion was in fact a radio drama based on H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre players. Some listeners became angry once they realized they had been tricked, and the reaction to the broadcast sparked a national discussion about fake news, propaganda, and the role of radio. In this compelling nonfiction chapter book, Gail Jarrow explores the production of the broadcast, the aftermath, and the concept of fake news in the media.
A 2019 Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book * A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year * A Booklist Editors' Choice * A Washington Post Best Children's Book * A BCCB Blue Ribbon * A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.