The Greatest Liar on Earth

A new children’s book written by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frane Lessac explores the (literally) fantastical adventures of 19th century Swiss traveller Louis de Rougemont. As we’ve seen previously, de Rougemont turned a relatively uneventful trip to Australia into the kind of picaresque romp punctuated by audacious confrontations with man, beast and elements so beloved of periodicals of that time. The Greatest Liar on Earth is, appropriately enough, issued in Australia, and the publishers describe it as “an excellent teaching resource for schools”. How true! Alerting the young to the monetary advantages of lying is important preparation for so many career paths.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why anyone would release a book on a Sunday, check the date.

A preview:



  1. “Teacher’s Notes” will be online next week. Surprisingly EXCELLENT writing and art activities.

  2. Free Downloadable Teacher’s Notes now online at
    Discussion Questions: Tall Tales
    • Mark Twain was a master at creating tall tales. He would begin
    with an ordinary and very believable situation and gradually
    embellish it until it had grown into something extraordinarily
    funny. What did Mark Twain mean when he said: “Do not tell
    fi sh stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t
    tell them where they know the fi sh.”?
    • A “fi sh” story is a story that exaggerates the truth – the fi sh
    gets bigger every time the fi sherman tells the story. What’s
    the best “fi sh” story that you’ve ever heard?
    • Experiment with your own tall tale-telling: Write down two
    things about yourself that are true and one thing that is made
    up. It can be anything – adventures you’ve been on, music you
    like, a fact about your family, people you met, etc. The idea is
    to use your skills of persuasion in the words you choose or,
    if sharing them out loud, in the way you tell these statements.
    After you share your three statements, the class has to guess
    which two are true and which one is a lie.
    • What makes people believe a good story? Is it the subject
    matter or the way the person tells it?
    • After we have been entertained by a story, and we have been
    told it is true, does it matter in the end if it is actually true or
    • Look up the word “fabulist”. What does it mean? Would you
    use it to describe Louis’s behaviour. What are some other
    words you might use?
    • Perhaps Louis did not deliberately delude his public, but
    rather, he himself was deluded. Discuss this idea as a class.
    What are delusions of grandeur? (You may need to look this
    up on the internet or in a book.) Could this idea be used to
    explain Louis’s behaviour?
    • Can you name another famed teller of tall tales? Tell the rest
    of the class about them.
    Writing Activities
    • Write the news article accompanying this headline: “Truth is
    stranger than fi ction! Shipwrecked! Amazing true-life adventures
    of a castaway! Read all about it!”
    Classroom Activities
    “Australian history is so curious and strange.
    It does not read like history, but like the most beautiful lies.”
    Mark Twain
    • Write a newspaper article exposing Louis as a fraud or
    questioning the facts of Louis’s adventures. Then, write a
    second article in defence of Louis’s story.
    • Write a report about Louis’s meeting with Queen Victoria.
    At the end of the nineteenth century, Australia – and the
    world for that matter – contained many undiscovered
    territories, launching risky expeditions that would be
    written and talked about for decades. Explorers sought
    gold, new species, trails and a little spot of fame. Write a
    story labelled “The Young Explorer” about your adventures
    as a young explorer in the wilds of Australia.
    • Create a journal called “Explorations in Australia”.
    • Put your storytelling to the test by taking four items found
    in your classroom or home and weave them into your own
    tall tale. Remember that a tall tale takes what’s real and
    believable and “grows” it into something funny. How will
    you “grow” your story? Record the development of your
    story during the editing process.
    • Take factual information and create a tall tale about:
    – a character who accomplishes great feats
    – a character with an animal or object that helps him or her
    – an author who uses exaggeration and describes things
    greater than they really are
    – a character who does not like what others call progress
    – a famous person.

  3. Pingback: Alfred Pearse | de Rougemont illustrations | Strange Flowers

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