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RIVER BOY by William Anderson


The Story of Mark Twain

by William Anderson & illustrated by Dan Andreasen

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-028400-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

Anderson, best known for his studies of Laura Ingalls Wilder, introduces another American original with this anecdotal profile. Though the author covers Clemens’s entire life, from curly-haired youth watching Mississippi steamboats dock to white-suited, cigar-smoking pundit, he focuses most closely on Clemens’s childhood—particularly on incidents that later appeared in his novels, such as the famous whitewashing caper—and on his spectacular public career as writer, yarn-spinner, and celebrity. Capped by an atmospheric final scene of Halley’s Comet glowing in the sky over a twilight river, Andreasen’s (Love Song for a Baby, 2002, etc.) polished, golden-toned historical tableaus give Clemens’s life an idyllic air it certainly lacked in its later stages, but the warmth they add will effectively draw readers into the great humorist’s world. Still, next to Kathryn Lasky’s A Brilliant Streak: The Making of Mark Twain, illustrated by Barry Moser (1998), the art and writing both come off as bland fare, competent but ordinary. (chronology) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)