Author: Jim Murphy
Age Range: 10-14 (Kirkus reviews)
Interest Range: 9-14
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Plot: In the year 1869, a farmer discovered what was thought to be a “petrified man” on his property. For months. the country was fascinated by the find, especially because the man was over 10 feet tall- a real giant! Was he a giant from the local Native American legends? Or even from biblical times? Can a man even be petrified? This book tells the story of the Cardiff Giant and those who were closest to him: the farmer on whose property they found him, the men who did the digging, and the man who set out to fool America into paying him a fortune. Along the way you’ll even hear about about the famous circus man, P. T. Barnum and his own part in the tale. How could a sculpture fool so many people? You’ll have to read to find out!
Review: The subject material was interesting, focusing on how someone was able to pull off such a big stunt and fool so many people. It also talked about the importance of doing your research and being thorough when looking for answers. At the end of the book, the author talks about his own research and writing process for anyone who is intrigued enough to keep reading. I felt that it was factual and progressed fast enough to hold the attention of kids who are used to fast-paced fiction. It even read like fiction sometimes, since it was so hard to believe that a statue could have fooled so many “scientific” and “learned” people. Underneath the story it definitely speaks to the importance of finding the real answer, something librarians and teachers alike can appreciate.
Themes: History, Research, Lies
William “Stub” Newell: The owner of the farm on which the Cardiff Giant was found. Also one of the original owners of the Giant.
George Hull: The original prankster who set out to create the Giant in order to make money fooling people. He had the sculpture made, aged, and planted it himself on Newell’s farm.
Murphy, J. (2012). The Giant and How He Humbugged America. New York: Scholastic, Inc.
There’s a sucker born every minute- and in the late 1800s, America was full of them. One man’s statue fooled millions into thinking that a petrified giant had been found in New York State.