A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
History of the Eiffel Tower's construction and bumpy early history. Explains Prohibition and the rise of criminal networks. Sidebars offer background on landmark Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Francisco, counterfeiting, and more. Includes a glossary and source list pointing to books, newspaper articles, and websites. Author's note describes a con still pervasive in Paris today and warns readers to "stay sharp."
Opportunists, unfortunately, are always looking for ways to take advantage of people, but you can steer clear by being smart and recognizing a con. A life of crime is unlikely to end well. History -- even when it involves criminals -- is full of fascinating stories.
Positive Role Models
Some of Lustig's victims go the police. Law-enforcement officials doggedly pursue Lustig.
Violence & Scariness
Retells story of Victor getting slashed by the husband of a woman with whom he was flirting.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower, is an engaging, smartly illustrated story about a lifelong criminal in the early 20th century. It discusses Prohibition, organized crime, bootlegging, gambling, counterfeiting, and scams and explains how cons work, providing some insight into how to avoid falling victim to one. The con artist's victims are portrayed as angry or humiliated. Al Capone makes an appearance, and a page about Prohibition pictures two intoxicated men with bottles. It's a marvelous bit of history and beautifully told, but the shady elements and lengthy text make it a hard sell for kindergartners, despite the publisher's age recommendation.
Is It Any Good?
A con artist seems an odd subject for a picture book, but author-illustrator Greg Pizzoli artfully weaves a fascinating story of a bold criminal who took every advantage of the times he lived in. Pizzoli's artwork makes TRICKY VIC: THE MAN WHO SOLD THE EIFFEL TOWER a marvel. He uses a modern, muted palette and mixes in stamps, photographs, pencil, ink, and more. Victor Lustig, known by 45 aliases over his life, is depicted using the only constant thing about him: He's a fingerprint, sporting a bowler hat. The mark who took the bait in his tower scheme, André Poisson, is depicted with a fish for a head.
Pizzoli smartly intertwines Lustig's criminal escapades with historical benchmarks such as the World Fair, Prohibition, and the heyday of transatlantic ocean travel. There's a fair amount of history in the main text, with sidebars offering more background detail. A sure hit for pranksters and history buffs.
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