It was hard being a history buff when I was younger. I was always drawn to the East, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I learned any non-Western history. Thanks to Brianna DuMont, pre-teens can now learn about the world–not just the West–in her new middle grade non-fiction book, Famous Phonies: Legends, Fakes, and Frauds Who Changed History (Sky Pony Press, 2014).
As the first in The Changed History series, Famous Phonies tells the true stories of twelve famous historical figures, ranging from George Washington (not the hero we think he is!) to Confucius to William Shakespeare (did he really write all those plays?) and more. Her writing is witty and fun for both kids and adults.
In college I studied Confucius, but I didn’t know until I read Brianna’s book that he wasn’t the wise old sage his disciples made him out to be (and many of these followers weren’t born until way after Confucius died). Famous Phonies also includes the legend of Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor, who was alive around 2500 BCE.
Some of my other favorites include the stories of Major William Martin, the brainchild of Ian Fleming, and Prester John, a larger than life figure whose legend spanned Europe, the Caribbean, and more.
The book is beautiful, not just for its prose, but also for the gorgeous illustrations and other images. It’s available in bookstores and on Amazon, but was also featured in the Scholastic 4th grade reading club this school year.
One more thing. Brianna DuMont and I share the amazing agent, Carrie Pestritto!