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

Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

by Greg Pizzoli (Viking, 2015)

I’ve read lots and lots and lots of books for kids. I’ve read lots of questionable ones and I’ve read lots of spectacular ones. And then I’ve read a handful that are simultaneously spectacular and fresh and inventive and completely honor how smart kids are.

This is one of those.

You might know Greg from that burping crocodile or the hound with a need for speed, but did you know a book about an impossible con is exactly what the world of kids’ books needed? Meet this Greg.

Actually, meet Robert Miller.

Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

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A normal kid, one who leaves home to become an artist despite his parents’ best efforts. A normal kid with a penchant for billiards, poker, and gin.

A grifter known as Count Victor Lustig.

Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

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This liqour induced pow-wow below the Totally Legit delivery truck might be one of my favorite moments in this thing. It’s accompanied by a sidebar of Totally Legit information about the Prohibition. This blend of grit and truth and history hangs right in the suspense of Vic’s story. It feels like Saul Bass made one of those The More You Know PSAs right there on the page.

Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

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One of the greatest tricks in this whole book is how we see the silly, unsuspecting faces of Vic’s marks, but never his. Only a thumprint. Both the clearest and fuzziest identification.

Mixed-media collage always yields great texture, just by its very nature. But Greg adds custom-made rubber stamps, actual photo texture from the floor of the Eiffel Tower, and like we’ve already seen, his very own thumbprint. This approach is as layered and grungy as Vic himself. This book can’t be slick and clean and soft–it needs depth and dirt and intrigue. That’s what it’s got.

That’s no con.

Check out these endpapers. Brick wall, posted bills, danger, and suspense.

Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

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Why does that not look like the full width of the book, you ask?

Because then there’s this:

Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli In the best of places, that sneaky space under the dust jacket, where unsuspecting grownups don’t dare peek. Kids do. They know where the good stuff is. And this is the good stuff: The Ten Commandments for Con Artists by our hero.

I think 8 is my favorite. Or 5. Or 10.

And now, don’t miss Greg and Julie’s chat about this book over at Seven Impossible Things. Lots to digest. Commandment 2 will be an impossibility.



I received a copy of Tricky Vic from Viking, but the comments are all my own. And speaking of Viking, huge kudos to the publicity team that sent the book like so:

Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli


  • Posted March 10, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Too fun! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.

  • Posted March 10, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Can’t wait to pick this one up.

  • Kathy Mazurowski
    Posted March 10, 2015 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I can’t wait to read this book. I am number one in line as soon as the library processes this book.

  • Posted March 10, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this book! I love Greg’s work 🙂 Plus—he seems like the nicest guy!

  • Posted March 11, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    That packaging is AMAZING! Well done Viking! Also, may I say that I love the hidden extras under the dust jacket! Such a good idea!

  • Jilanne Hoffman
    Posted March 11, 2015 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Love this book! Con artists unite! Gotta find this book. Thanks for showcasing.

    Interesting that the book police allowed the references to alcohol. Maybe because prohibition was central to the story? I just received a critique on a NF story of mine that describes artists in Paris, drinking wine and discussing art in bistros and was told I had to nix to the wine. Isn’t wine central to the story of artists in Paris? Ha! 😀

  • Carrie Finison
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    This looks fantastic, Carter – thanks for sharing. I will look for it.