A New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2015
In the early 1900s, Robert Miller, a.k.a. “Count Victor Lustig,” moved to Paris hoping to be an artist. A con artist, that is. He used his ingenious scams on unsuspecting marks all over the world, from the Czech Republic, to Atlantic ocean liners, and across America. Tricky Vic pulled off his most daring con in 1925, when he managed to "sell" the Eiffel Tower to one of the city’s most successful scrap metal dealers! Six weeks later, he tried to sell the Eiffel Tower all over again. Vic was never caught. For that particular scam, anyway. . . .
Kids will love to read about Vic's thrilling life, and teachers will love the informational sidebars and back matter. Award-winner Greg Pizzoli’s humorous and vibrant graphic style of illustration mark a bold approach to picture book biography.
Pizzoli (Number One Same) writes a complex, wordy biography of a con artist named Robert Miller until Miller chooses the alias "Count Victor Lustig," which sounds better when he's trying to fleece passengers on cruise liners. The story opens slowly as Pizzoli reviews Lustig's early career and first con jobs, but picks up when the man conceived of a wild plan to sell the Eiffel Tower to a scrap dealer. In those days, Pizzoli explains, the Eiffel Tower was not the beloved icon it is now, and tearing it down was not an outlandish idea. Posing as a municipal employee, Lustig sells bids on the tower's scrap value. The victim who "wins" is too embarrassed to report his loss to the police, and Lustig gets away with it the first time. Pizzoli's stylish illustrations combine flat, graphic elements with archival photography; he imagines the enigmatic Miller as a faceless figure with a thumbprint for a head. While Pizzoli's recounting entertains, the sense is of a shorter story struggling to free itself from a thicket of detail. Ages 7 9.