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Biographical/Autobiographical, Book Reviews, Picture Books, Read-Aloud Suggestions, Teacher & Parent Recommendations

THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN by Huckleberry Finn (with considerable help from Robert Burleigh and Barry Blitt)

The Adventures of Mark Twain as told by one his most famous characters, Huckleberry Finn, is a brilliant biography.  It is in picture book format, making it inviting to elementary grade readers.

Huckleberry Finn narrates his version of Mark Twain’s life in his distinctive voice (for which the authors prepare the reader in a short introduction).  Huck immediately establishes a relaxed rapport with his readers by confiding that “this ain’t intendin’ to be no windy bioografy.”[sic]  Rather than detracting from the story, Huck’s voice enhances his descriptions.

The book briefly covers Twain’s childhood, the highlights of his writing career including references to Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and his first work The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.  It also touches on his marriage, the tragedies of losing one of his daughters and his wife, and his financial ruin near the end of his life.  Huck’s account also includes Twain’s name change from the original Samuel Clemens, his opinion of slavery and his relationship to Halley’s Comet.  Huck’s ‘editors’ also include a timeline at the conclusion of the book with specific dates.

This is a fantastic way to introduce the topic of biographies in general or of Mark Twain specifically.  The format of the book in both words and illustrations makes it remarkably approachable for young readers just beginning to look into the details of the lives of individuals about whom they may have previously learned only a name.

I highly recommend this book for elementary readers.  Due to Huck’s unique voice it may actually work better as a read-aloud than an independent reading choice but could absolutely work for both.  I look forward to discovering more work by these inventive and talented authors/’editors.’

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