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As I’m sifting and creating the Tom Sawyer book adventure for “Jump Into A Book,” I’ve found myself laughing, loving, and living inside the pages of this Mark Twain masterpiece and above all else classic piece of American literature.
Oftentimes I’ve thought of Mark Twain as the same thing as Tom Sawyer but when I really started to think about it, I didn’t know much about the infamous Mark Twain so I went searching for a little information and came upon a picture biography about his daughter who just happened to be his biographer.
“This is a frank biographer and an honest one, she uses no sandpaper on me.” Mark Twain
Susy was Mark Twain’s 13-year-old daughter who felt that people didn’t really know her father. Even those people who had read all of his books attended all of his lectures and considered themselves “experts. That inspired her to write her own book, The Extraordinary Mark Twain.
So basically this precocious 13-year-old set out to set the record straight and secretly wrote her own biography of her father Mark Twain.
“ He has a keen sense of the ludicrous, notices funny stories and incidents, knows how to tell them, to improve upon them, and does not forget them…But still, he is more interested in earnest books and earnest subjects.” ~ Susy Clemmons
This lovely book was written by Barbara Kerley, with its great prose, not only gives us a peek into the life of Samuel Clemmons aka Mark Twain but on how to write a biography. This book seamlessly blends the life of the Clemmons family and takes us on a journey into the life of Mark Twain. This book, published in 2010, has also garnered many awards including:
- 2010 CYBILS Nonfiction Picture Book Award
- Best Children’s Books 2010 — Publishers Weekly
- Best Books 2010 — School Library Journal
- Best Books for Children and Teens 2010 — Kirkus Reviews
- Best of 2010: Books for Young Readers — Washington Post
- A Junior Library Guild selection
- 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing — New York Public Library
- Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Books Gold Award, California Reading Association
- Winner of the Oregon Spirit Book Award for Nonfiction — OCTE
- Oregon Book Award Finalist
Edwin Fotheringham, the illustrator, really caught the fun that Mark Twain and Susy shared in their lives. The illustrations are fantastic and I love the use of “colonial” colors. I really feel that these were the types of colors being used in the 19th century. In the middle of each double page fold is a little journal with an excerpt from Susy’s journal about her father. These illustrations really bring Barbara’s great writing to life.
Samuel Clemmons who’s pen name was Mark Twain was known for many books but especially for “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn.
After sharing this book together, you too will discover that anyone can write a biography with a little observation. why not start right now? Barbara Kerley, the author has this wonderful printable page with the very easy guidelines to Writing an Extraordinary Biography. It’s also in the back of the book.
As always with a Barbara Kerley book, it’s an experience and not just a story. Enjoy!