Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West
Fleischman, Sid. 2008. THE TROUBLE BEGINS AT 8: A LIFE OF MARK TWAIN IN THE WILD, WILD WEST. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061344312 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-10]
Fleischman has outdone himself with this thorough biography of one of America’s most-loved authors. Written in a style that mimics Twain’s works, the book is a treasure-trove for literature lovers. Chapters are short and approachable. Illustrations are plentiful, and his story is realistic. Fans of Twain will delight in every word of the back matter: a timeline, reference notations for each chapter, illustration and photograph sources, a bibliography, and list of Twain’s works. Moreover, the size of the publication is perfectly suited for reluctant readers – somewhere between picture book and classic novel.
Fleischman unapologetically tells the reader that what Twain wrote or said about himself may have been exaggerated, and this work aims to let the reader decide. All amplification aside, Twain’s life was definitely rich with experience and personality.
Readers should come away from this piece anxious to read as much Twain as they can get their hands on.
Include this book with any author study of Mark Twain. Reference it when reading Twain’s works. Encourage readers to make connections between the life of the man and the stories he created.
Other biographies of Twain suited for middle readers:
Anderson, William. RIVER BOY: THE STORY OF MARK TWAIN. ISBN 9780060284015
Lasky, Kathryn. A BRILLIANT STREAK: THE MAKING OF MARK TWAIN. ISBN 9780152521103
Rasmussen, R. Kent. MARK TWAIN FOR KIDS: HIS LIFE AND TIMES, 21 ACTIVITIES. ISBN 9781556525278
By Rebecca S. McKee