Monday, January 4, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: The Extraordinary Mark Twain

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy). Barbara Kerley. 2010. (January 2010). Scholastic. Picture Book Biography/Picture Book Nonfiction).

According to Susy, people were...well, just plain wrong about her papa. They thought they knew Mark Twain--after all, he was a world-famous author, quoted here, there, and everywhere. Thousands of people had read his books and attended his lectures.
People probably thought they were Mark Twain experts.
But they were wrong, and Susy was "annoyed." Greatly.

Wow. What a way to start the new year! A great--really quite amazing--picture book biography about a very interesting writer, a very funny writer, Mark Twain. And it's written by the oh-so-talented Barbara Kerley. I had very high expectations for this one. And I wasn't disappointed.

So what is it about? It is about Mark Twain, obviously. It is about how his daughter--his then thirteen year old daughter--decided to write a biography of her father. Her observations, her thoughts, how she knew and loved him. Conversations they had together. The life they shared together as a family.

There were so many things I loved about this one. The subject. (I may have discovered Twain quite late in my life--didn't meet him until adulthood--but it's one of my goals to read more Twain.) The presentation and style. Very reader-friendly. Very appealing to the eyes and the ears. The illustrations were so bright, so bold, so appealing. (At least to me.) They definitely helped draw me into the story. The use of primary source materials. How easy it was--as a reader--to know which was which. What parts of the story were drawn from actual quotes from Mark Twain and his daughter Susy.

What I loved the very, very most about this one was that each page--or most pages at least--had a little "journal" to open up and read. These journal sections contain actual entries from Susy's biography. In her own words--in her own way--despite the misspellings--she's able to convey what her father was really like in a way that no one else ever could.

The amount of work, the details, that went into this one just amazed me. It made me want to know more. I think it is both kid-friendly AND teacher-friendly. (For example, she has a sheet on how children can write "an extraordinary biography" of their own.)

Definitely recommended!!!

Source of book: Review copy provided by publisher.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

1 comment:

Barbara Kerley said...

Hey thanks, Becky. So glad you enjoyed the book!

Barb Kerley