Friday, December 5, 2008

The Trouble Begins at 8

Title: The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the the Wild, Wild West
Author: Sid Fleischman
Genre: Juvenile Non-Fiction, Biography
Pages:224
Date Finished: 30 October 2008
My Rating: 3

I was browsing the new non-fiction titles in the children's section at the library, looking for any books about penguins or dinosaurs that might interest my 3 year old when this book caught my attention. The book itself, the size, cover, photographs and illustrations were appealing and I was curious to read a biography about Mark Twain that was written for children.
Writing a biography about Mark Twain can't be an easy task, especially one aimed at young children. Twain did not exactly leave a lot of reliable material about his early years behind. And then, how do you capture the humor and wit of Mark Twain in such a way to make it appealing to your audience?
I thought Fleischman crafted a fun and witty look at Twain's life including the events that shaped his early works of non-fiction, er, fiction, or wait, are they fiction or non-fiction? Roughing It and The Innocents Abroad. Fleischman's style often seemed to channel Twains style of witty and tongue-in-cheek humor, which only seemed befitting and the best way to make a biography about Mark Twain appealing to a young audience.
The numerous illustrations and photographs throughout were a little poorly placed but added a great deal to the text.

We'll stick with the books about penguins and dinosaurs for my son for now and come back to this one when he is a few years older. :-)

2 comments:

Jill said...

I agree with your assessment...it's definitely a book for older kids given the complexity of the language. One of my pet peeves is reading books where paragraphs are sentences are cut off by pictures and the paragraph continues two pages later. The image placement annoyed me, but I did like the author's style and think it would be a good choice for an older age group.

Trish said...

I would love to know more about Mark Twain! I haven't really sought out a good biography, but your post reminded me that I need to do that! Maybe I'll even check this one out.