The Big Book of Dummies, Rebels & Other Geniuses

Overview

"A marvelous collection of quirky biographical sketches of the 'chaotic beginnings' of 26 famous people. Readers ages 11 and up will be fascinated."—Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal

"This book is ideal for teens who are wondering what will become of their lives. It is also a great catch for biography lovers. This book would be at home in any school or public library with a strong biography collection, but it is also a staple for growing young adult collections. . . . ...

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Overview

"A marvelous collection of quirky biographical sketches of the 'chaotic beginnings' of 26 famous people. Readers ages 11 and up will be fascinated."—Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal

"This book is ideal for teens who are wondering what will become of their lives. It is also a great catch for biography lovers. This book would be at home in any school or public library with a strong biography collection, but it is also a staple for growing young adult collections. . . . Once in the reader's hands, it will sell itself."—VOYA

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Robbie L. Flowers
Ever wonder how geniuses and famous people began their lives? Do they know where they are going from the moment of birth? This book is ideal for teens who are wondering what will become of their lives. It is also a great catch for biography lovers. Pouy offers a wide variety of biographical sketches of famous names that readers will easily recognize. Subjects range from Charlie Chaplin to Louis Armstrong and Albert Einstein. The author nicely makes sure to include little-known details as a way of reminding the reader that no matter how famous, people are the same. Some of these famous faces came from meager beginnings or were thought to be altogether crazy, but the common thread of each sketch is that they persist in finding their individual talents and voices. This book would be at home in any school or public library with a strong biography collection, but it is also a staple for a growing young adult collection. It easily lends itself to readers' advisory for teens who find themselves questioning their places in the world. The book would take a little pushing, but once in the reader's hands, it will sell itself. Reviewer: Robbie L. Flowers
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

Pablo Picasso couldn't sit still in class; Winston Churchill took the entrance exams to military school three times before he passed. Who would believe that one day they would be famous? This collection of biographical sketches introduces 26 figures in literature, art, science, and history, all of whom had "chaotic beginnings." Most are familiar to American students, though some, like Olympe de Gouges and François Truffaut, may be new. The chapters center on the subjects' early lives, though sidebars provide some context and explanation of their adult accomplishments. Some sections are written in first person: John Lennon's begins, "I am one of the Beatles. No, not Paul. The other one, John." Walt Disney's story is told by his cartoon characters. Bloch has altered existing paintings and photographs to add to the informal tone (for example, he has drawn a group of soldiers marching up Churchill's shoulders). The biographies are reminiscent of Kathleen Krull's Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (And What the Neighbors Thought) (Harcourt, 2005), though for more sophisticated readers. Unfortunately, the translation is awkward at times, and the creativity of the text (and lack of an index) limit the book's use for student research. However, the unusual format will attract readers, who will likely find it comforting to know that not everyone who becomes successful has an easy start.-Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

Kirkus Reviews
The devil's in the details, and this otherwise appealing gathering of 26 bad boys and girls through history is marred by misquotes, misinformation, typos and awkward wording. Though the cast includes international entries-Louis Armstrong, Albert Einstein, John Lennon-the focus is strongly French, ranging from poor students such as Charlemagne and Flaubert to the troublemaking likes of Dumas, Truffaut and 18th-century feminist Olympe de Gouges. In the refreshingly unconventional presentation many entries are written in a fictive first person, to which Bloch contributes such quirky illustrations as a portrait photo of Thomas Edison squeezed into a light bulb. Despite a healthy list of resources, this is not assignment material: There is no index, specific information often takes a back seat to colorful phrasing and both the fact-checking (no, Churchill never promised "blood, suffering, tears and sweat") and copy editing are substandard. Instead, as Pouy writes in the preface, this "raises an eyebrow at its subjects, refreshing and enlivening their great names, while inviting us to smile at the unruliness of childhood . . . ." How Gallic. Read it for pleasure. (Collective biography. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592701032
  • Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/2008
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 8 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Jean-Bernard Pouy, a big name in French detective fiction, turns his attention here to some real life characters, with humor, bit and tenderness. Serge Bloch's illustrations have appeared in newspapers, magazines and both adult and children's books. His easily recognizable caricatures, which are both witty and humane, brilliantly succeed in overturning cultural icons. About his own style he has said: "I like to combine illustration and photography more and more because a photograph really makes us believe that it's true." Anne Blanchard currently thinks up and oversees books on various themes, occasionally writing them herself. She was formerly a social science and children's book editor. Another of her brainstorms, The Big Book of Dummies, Rebels and Other Geniuses, has also been published by Enchanted Lion Books.
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