Know any kids who like to bend the truth? Introduce them to Louis de Rougemont, a real-life writer-lecturer who enthralled London in the late 1890s with astounding stories of his adventures in the remote wilds in and around Australia. As the celebrated de Rougemont’s tales grew ever taller (mustachioed fish, flying wombats, boulders of gold), critics began to doubt his exploits, and eventually he was exposed as a Swiss trickster who culled his whoppers from the reading room of the British Library. Greenwood’s poetic, nuanced text decries de Rougemont as a fraud, but a moral ambiguity remains in his rags-to-riches (and back again) story: “Who has not walked in the woods, seen a cat, and called it a wolf?” Further blurring fact and fiction is a concluding two-page note that discusses the validity of the fallen con man’s claims. Although readers may be left with questions, they will nevertheless be charmed by Lessac’s bright folk art–style gouache illustrations, at their best when capturing every detail of de Rougemont’s astonishing yarns. Grades 2-5. --Kristen McKulski
About the Author
is a musician and award-winning author of The Donkey of Gallipoli: A True Story of Courage in World War I,
among other children’s books.
He lives in Australia.Frané Lessac
is the award-winning illustrator of more than thirty children’s books. Originally from New Jersey, she now lives with her husband, Mark Greenwood, in Australia.