Great Illustrated Books

Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Identities

By Chris Barton

Dial, 2011
Pages : 144
Suggested Ages: 12 and Up
ISBN: 9780803733107

Who hasn't imagined being someone else? For most of us, assuming a new identity remains the stuff of daydreams, but in Can I See Your I.D.? Chris Barton profiles ten people who successfully lived their lives as imposters. Some assumed false identities for criminal purposes; others for self-preservation. All of them were daring risk-takers who found danger and adventure in their assumed identities.

Frank Abagnale, a master con-artist whose exploits were immortalized in the Steven Spielberg film Catch Me if You Can, successfully impersonated a pilot, doctor, lawyer, and Secret Service agent between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one. In 1993, sixteen-year-old Keron Thomas, posing as a motorman, took passengers on a hair-raising ride in a New York City subway car. Solomon Perel, a Polish Jew whose "Aryan" features enabled him to pass as an ethnic German, joined the Hitler Youth and survived 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, South Carolina, and journeyed to freedom in Philadelphia. Journalist John Howard Griffin, who impersonated a black man in Montgomery, Alabama, during the height of segregation, chronicled his experiences in the now classic Black Like Me. From a fake princess to a Klansman masquerading as a Cherokee orphan to a woman posing as a Civil War soldier, these stories cover deception, fraud, and survival in all its forms.

Barton's use of second-person point-of-view gives these stories dramatic tension and a sense of immediacy. Hoppe's graphic panels enhance the suspenseful effect. The brevity of these profiles will appeal to reluctant readers and work well for reading aloud. Readers will no doubt find some of these colorful characters intriguing enough to seek more back story on the motives behind their masquerades.

Reviewed by : Sully


If you love this book, then try:

Bragg, Georgia. How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. Walker Childrens, 2011.

Macaulay, David and Richard Walker. The Way We Work. Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books, 2008

Critics have said

In 10 impeccably crafted profiles, Barton (The Day-Glo Brothers) shares the stories of individuals���many just teenagers���who adopted false identities for amusement, profit, or survival.
Publishers Weekly