Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower

Greg Pizzoli. Viking, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-670-01652-5
Pizzoli (Number One Sam) 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. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/19/2015
Release date: 03/10/2015
Genre: Children's
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