THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN

(ACCORDING TO SUSY)

From 1885 to ’86, Mark Twain’s 13-year-old daughter Susy Clemens wrote a 130-page biography of her father out of indignation: Her dear Papa was no mere humorist! This large-format picture book from the creators of What to Do About Alice? (2008) contains numerous excerpts from Susy’s sprightly biography/journal, presented throughout as mini-spreads, spelling errors intact. (Twain described his daughter’s spelling as “frequently desperate.”) Kerley’s conversational, quotation-rich narration effectively complements Susy’s insights, and the result is an affectionate portrait of Twain as writer and family man. Twain aficionados will be especially captivated by its fullness, as he’s not revealed as the author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn until mid-book. Fotheringham’s dynamically composed, digitally created full-bleed illustrations, both inventive and appealing, effectively recall the 19th-century setting, and big, swirling lines reflect the flourishes of an ink pen. A favorite spread shows the grand Connecticut house as a cross-section, with Twain going about his routine in every room, even taking a bath! A heartwarming tribute to both the writing life in general and the well-loved humorist—oops, sorry Susy… “Pholosopher!” (author’s note, how to write a biography, time line, sources) (Picture book/biography. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-12508-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2009

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A DOCTOR LIKE PAPA

In a brief episode exploring the theme of challenging gender roles that is loosely based on local history, the devastating flu epidemic of 1918 tests a Vermont child’s resolution to become a country doctor like her father. Resisting her mother’s insistence that it’s no job for a woman, Margaret cajoles her father at last into allowing her to accompany him on house calls. She proves an able assistant—but needs all her skills and stomach later that winter when, on the way to a remote relative’s with her little brother, she comes upon a farmhouse with a nearly dead dog outside, and inside only a small child shivering among the bodies of her stricken family. In a quick final chapter, Margaret grows up to achieve her heart’s desire, and even to see her own little daughter show early signs of continuing the family profession. Kinsey-Warnock (Lumber Camp Library, below, etc.) folds in a subplot involving a beloved uncle who comes back from the war deeply depressed and minus an arm, slips in a snippet about Elizabeth Blackwell for further role-modeling, and closes with a historical note. Young readers will be engrossed, following this plucky but vulnerable child through a time of hardship and widespread tragedy. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-029319-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human...

THE RAIDERS

From the Inuk Quartet series , Vol. 2

The second episode in the Danish author's Inuk Quartet sends young Icelander Leiv and his Inuit friends on a new mission of vengeance after Viking raiders plunder his newfound Greenland home.

They have spent an idyllic spring and summer recovering from the trek in Shipwreck (2011); it's been interrupted only by a quick clash with a longship captained by the brutal Thorleifsson brothers. Now, Apuluk and Narua set out to rejoin their nomadic clan with Leiv in tow. That friendly visit turns into a punitive expedition after the Thorleifssons massacre most of a native settlement and loot Leiv's new home. The translated narrative reads smoothly, and high production values result in a handsome, open page design. Its visual appeal is enhanced by Cann's stylized but crisply drawn and richly colored images of arctic wildlife and fur-clad human residents. Though wordy descriptions of seasonal cycles and farm life slow down the first several chapters, the pacing picks up on the way to a violent climax, gory ends for the bad guys, and (pointing to developments in volumes to come) Leiv's decision to explore northward in search of a land route to fabled Vinland.

Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human values.   (Historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84686-744-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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