Cover image for The big book of dummies, rebels and other geniuses
The big book of dummies, rebels and other geniuses
Uniform Title:
Encyclopédie des cancres, des rebelles et autres génies. English
1st American ed.
Publication Information:
Brooklyn, NY : Enchanted Lion Books, 2008.
Physical Description:
123 p. : ill. ; 26 cm.
General Note:
"Originally published in French as L'Encyclopédie des Cancres, rebelles et autres génies by Jean-Bernard Pouy, Serge Bloch and Anne Blanchard, éditions Gallimard Jeunesse, 2006"--T.p. verso.
Armstrong -- Balzac -- Bell -- Buffon -- Cézanne -- Chaplin -- Charlemagne -- Christie -- Churchill -- Da Vinci -- Dali -- Darwin -- David-Néel -- Débussy -- Disney -- Dumas -- Dunant -- Edison -- Einstein -- Flaubert -- Gouges -- Lennon -- Lincoln -- London -- Picasso -- Truffaut.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 920 POU 1 1
Book J 920 POU 1 1
Book J 920 POU 1 1
Book 920 POU 1 1

On Order



"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

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

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 Francois 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

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) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Albert Einstein's large, deformed head convinced his parents he was abnormal. Charles Darwin was a mediocre student who preferred hunting and fishing to the classroom. Thomas Edison's teacher called him addled. Agatha Christie's parents considered her too fearful and timid to succeed in life. In an irreverent, humorous style, these figures are among the 26 profiled in this unusual collective biography of people in the fields of art, cinema, literature, music, and the sciences who overcame major obstacles in their childhood and youth to achieve greatness. Pouy makes the puzzling choice of writing some of the profiles in the subject's voice while the rest are traditional biographical narratives, but Bloch's playfully surreal illustrations are an appropriate complement to the text. Eleven profiles are of French figures like Charlemagne, Dumas, and Flaubert. American and other European subjects include Louis Armstrong, Winston Churchill, Salvador Dalí, John Lennon, Abraham Lincoln, and Pablo Picasso. A bibliography with suggestions for further reading is included.--Sullivan, Ed Copyright 2008 Booklist