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CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.? by Chris Barton


True Stories of False Identities

by Chris Barton & illustrated by Paul Hoppe

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: April 14th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3310-7
Publisher: Dial

In 10 vignettes, Barton profiles successful imposters, both men and women.

Some assumed false identities for criminal purposes, others for self-preservation. Possibly the most famous of the 10 is Frank Abagnale, a master con-artist whose exploits were immortalized in the Steven Spielberg film Catch Me if You Can. Asa Earl Carter, a longtime Ku Klux Klan member, adopted the new first name of Forrest and passed himself off as a Cherokee to publish a fake memoir, The Education of Little Tree, a bestseller that became a favorite of middle- and high-school teachers. On the other side of the spectrum is Solomon Perel, a Polish Jew whose Aryan features enabled him to pass as an ethnic German, enroll in the Hitler Youth and survive the Holocaust. Ellen Craft's light-skinned features enabled her to pass as white. With her husband, William, posing as her slave, they audaciously boarded a train in Charleston, S.C., and journeyed to freedom in Philadelphia. Barton's use of the second-person point of view gives these stories dramatic tension and a sense of immediacy. Hoppe's graphic panels enhance this effect. The brevity of these profiles will appeal to reluctant readers and work well for reading aloud, but a little more back story for some characters might have clarified the motives for their masquerades.

Teens in the thick of creating identities themselves will find this riveting. (Nonfiction. 12 & up)