Hello, and thanks for joining us at Tundra Telegram, the column where we check out the things that are posing particular problems for social media users and recommend some verified great reads.
One thing that came up often on Twitter this past weekend, with the implementation of the new blue check mark system: impersonation! The new CEO is very concerned with users pretending to be someone they are not – in particular, pretending to be someone who just purchased Twitter for $44 billion. The new management was adamant they would condone no impersonation of famous billionaires, no matter how amusing it might be.
In honor of the good times that were had pretending to be a thin-skinned plutocrat, we’ve assembled the best children’s book featuring impersonation, impostors, and mistaken identities. These aren’t your grandaddy’s Prince and the Pauper!
Ooko, the title character of Esmé Shapiro’s Ooko, is a fox who can’t really be said to be impersonating a dog as he really thinks he is one. Or rather, the thinks dogs are foxes, and can’t understand why the other foxes (including the fur-less two-legged foxes) don’t want him around. Ooko tries to make himself look like the other foxes (or dogs), but learns that being yourself is the best policy in this adorable book of inadvertent identity theft.
It’s one thing to impersonate a look, but what about a sound? In the new book Little Echo by Al Rodin, Little Echo lives alone in a cave and mimics the noises all around her, repeating only what she hears. But when a boy named Max enters the cave, she follows him and discovers she might have a voice of her own. Little Echo is a book about mimicry that suggests intense shyness and loneliness is often the cause of that impersonation.
Lookalike cats who live in adjacent apartment buildings wind up with the wrong owners in a comic story of mistaken cat identities Niblet & Ralph by Zachariah OHora. But though the two cats look similar, their tastes are very different. (Ralph loves listening to his tunes. Niblet loves his potato chips.) And they struggle to let their not-very-observant owners know they’re in the wrong household.
This next entry kind of gives the ending of the book away, so skip ahead one title if you don’t like your picture books spoiled. Great Dog by Davide Cali and Miguel Tanco follows a pup and his dog father as they stroll past portraits of great dogs in their family and discuss what the pup might grow up to be: an astronaut? A marathon runner? But the book reveals that all those great dogs were actually not great at all! And even the pup at the center of the story may, in fact, be a cat.
CHAPTER BOOKS & MIDDLE GRADE
The titular Yumi Chung allows one of her favorite YouTube stars and the campers at a comedy camp for kids believe she is a girl named “Kay Nakamura” for the majority of Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim. Yumi wants her parents to think she has a future career as a comedian, but they want her to pass a scholarship exam so she can attend an exclusive private school. But when she stumbles into a comedy camp led by her idol Jasmine Jasper and is mistaken for another camper, her quite funny double life begins!
Speaking of funny kids, Jake in Jake the Fake Keeps It Real by Craig Robinson (!) and Adam Mansbach (and illustrated by Keith Knight) is hilarious. But he also fakes his way into a prestigious music and art academy by auditioning with the only song he knows how to play on piano. Feeling like a real impostor and surrounded by young geniuses and artists, Jake will have to fake it until he makes it, or else the last laugh will be on him.
As the title of Genuine Fraud by E. “We Were Liars” Lockhart might suggest, this is a book about an impostor. Imogen is an orphaned heiress, and Julie is her closest friend. But months later, Julie is posing as Imogen, living at the fabulous Playa Grande Resort in Cabo San Lucas. What happened to Imogen and why is Julie pretending to be her? (Especially since Julie has not tagged herself as a parody account.)
It seems like it would be easy (and almost expected) for twins to impersonate one another, but thriller The Twin by Natasha Preston takes it to extremely creepy levels. Ivy and Iris are twins who haven’t lived together for years after their parents have a nasty divorce. But when their mom dies in an accident, Iris moves in with Ivy and her dad. Soon after, the Single White Female treatment begins, with Iris quickly taking over her sister’s entire identity.
In an impersonation feat, two girls pose as one in the romance We Are the Perfect Girl by Ariel Kalpan. An outgoing girl with an immense body dysphoria, Aphra, poses as her deeply shy but conventionally beautiful friend Bethany on a dating app. And together, with Cyrano-like precision, they win over Bethany’s hunky crush, Greg D’Agostino. How long can the dating duo keep D’Agostino in the dark – and can the two girls remain friends when their deception is inevitably revealed?
David Yoon’s Super Fake Love Song follows roleplaying nerd Sunny Dae, who pretends he’s the front man of a rock band to impress the girl of his dreams – going to all lengths to not reveal the lie. He should have called that band The Pretenders (but it was already taken), so he called his imaginary band The Mortals – don’t even get me started on The Mortal’s instruments. (Rimshot!)
And Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim is an epic fantasy about fashion and tailoring magic dresses. But Maia Tamarin, our heroine and daughter of a renowned tailor, must pretend she is her own brother to enter a cutthroat competition to prepare three magic gowns for the emperor’s bride-to-be – so we’re counting her as an impostor, too!