A humorous warning at the beginning of the book about the “author’s” (Huck Finn’s) peculiarities as a writer alerts readers to the fact that this is no ordinary biography. Written from the viewpoint of his most famous character, Twain’s life is compared to that of the narrator, Huck. Though the text is full of folksy expressions (“this ain’t intendin’ to be some windy bioografy”), readers should have little trouble understanding what life was like for both of these larger-than-life personalities. Blitt’s pen and watercolor illustrations interpret their adventures in a lively and comical way. Pair this with another recent book on Twain, The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley and, perhaps, some additional background information on Twain and Huck as a prelude to this great read-aloud. Also a wonderful choice for independent adventurers.
Recommended by Ann Mansfield, Librarian
A warning to the reader gives an explanation of who is writing this book, how the writing will be different from other books and the admittance of a character as a writer. The book's format is mini-chapters with informational titles. The chapters focus on Mark Twain's childhood, life as a steamboat captain, his career as a writer, the decision to be a stage performer, his marriage and a family home, his famous books and his final years. A summary for the chapter “About Sam the Steamboat Captain” includes learning to be a captain from an old riverboat captain, loving the control of a boat and using the river as a schoolhouse for life. Another summary for the chapter “About Sam Bein' a Stage Performer” includes reading his stories, telling about his travels and sharing wise sayings with a dramatic flair. The last chapter entitled “About Sam's Sad Last Years” explained Mark Twain's bad luck experiences such as stock market losses, the closing of his book company, bad inventions investments, financial devastation, the death of his favorite daughter and the death of his wife. In the very end of his life he was uplifted by the positive side of his celebrity status. Mark Twain's birth year and death year coincided with the arrivals of Halley's Comet as he wished. The book concludes with a last words section about his world famous character Huck Finn and a timeline of his own life.
Recommended by Christy Pierce, Librarian