It's the true story of a con man named Robert Miller born in the Czech Republic in 1890. He began his career as a gambler and philanderer and eventually made Europe too dangerous for himself, especially with World War I on the horizon. Traveling to the United States, according to legend he managed to connect with Al Capone and set out to con new territories. Eventually, however, the police caught on to his scams and he traveled back to Europe. There he pulled off his biggest, most famous con: selling the Eiffel Tower. However, his fortunes went downhill after this and when he was caught counterfeiting money he was captured. After a dramatic escape, he was recaptured and died after twelve years in Alcatraz.
Back matter includes a glossary, sources (books, newspaper articles, and websites and an author's note about the inspiration and background of the story. The art is a mixture of modernistic shapes, which fit in well with the historical time period, and photo collages, many of them from Paris itself.
The book is the size of a smaller picture book and each page is heavily illustrated. However, the subject matter is much more complex than the average picture book audience can handle. Which is basically why I feel conflicted. It's an interesting story, and I can see kids interested in history and in magic tricks (which many of the cons resemble) being interested in the subject matter, but I'm a bit at a loss as to what audience to promote it to. It feels as though it should be a lot more interesting than it is. I kept re-reading it, hoping it would grab me more on a second reading but it didn't.
Verdict: If you have a strong, older audience for picture book biographies or kids willing to read interesting/unique graphic nonfiction this would be perfect. Otherwise, I'm a little doubtful about adding it to the average public library collection.
ISBN: 9780670016525; Published 2015 by Viking/Penguin; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library