cover image The Greatest Liar on Earth: A True Story

The Greatest Liar on Earth: A True Story

Mark Greenwood, illus. by Fran%C3%A9 Lessac. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6155-7

Picture-book biographies frequently feature individuals who have acted commendably; the same can't necessarily be said for Greenwood's unlikely subject. At heart a storyteller, Frenchman Louis de Rougemont devours the accounts of world travelers and explorers, then reworks them to make them his own. On the lecture circuit as "The Most Remarkable Man of the Century," de Rougemont draws big audiences to hear him speak of his adventures, which include surviving on a desert island and wrestling a crocodile. Lessac's na%C3%AFf gouache illustrations keep pace with de Rougemont's tall tales, picturing the mustachioed fish, winged wombats, and "nuggets of gold too big for one man to carry" that de Rougemont describes with cool confidence. When de Rougemont is exposed as a fraud, he points the finger back at the audience: "Who has not walked in the woods, seen a cat, and called it a wolf?" Despite a slightly abrupt finale, Greenwood's story of a forgotten fabulist gently asks whether the truth is all it's cracked up to be%E2%80%94especially in show biz. Ages 7%E2%80%93up. Illustrator's agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.)