“Mark Twain was a project I’ve considered for years,” says Barbara Kerley. “I remember being fascinated with him in college and ever since then hoping I could tell a story about him in a way that kids would find accessible.” When she discovered that Twain’s 13-year-old daughter Susy Clemens had written a biography of her father, she was intrigued; she knew from raising her own daughter that 13-year-olds “just tell it like they see it.” In this large-format picture book, Susy has a chance to “set the record straight” about her famous father. The narration is filled with quotes from Twain; miniature inserts of Susy’s biography, spelling errors intact (“He is as much a Pholosopher as any thing I think,” writes Susy), provide a glimpse of Twain as both parent and author. Edwin Fotheringham’s digital, old-fashioned–looking illustrations whimsically depict life in Twain’s household, from a cross-section of the family’s sprawling house to their menagerie of cats. “He loved pussycats, and I thought that was hilarious,” says Fotheringham. “I just sort of sprinkled cats throughout because I try to…find a common thread and run with it.” Readers need not be Twain devotees to fall in love with this charmer.
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The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy)
Barbara Kerley; illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Scholastic / January / 9780545125086 / $17.99 / ages 8-11