American Boy: The Adventures of Mark Twain

American Boy: The Adventures of Mark Twain

by Don Brown
     
 

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Our popular image of Mark Twain is of a gruff, gray-haired eccentric, the outspoken literary giant who created enduring novels such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

But once upon a time, Mark Twain was a boy named Samuel Clemens. His birth on November 30, 1835, coincided with the appearance of Halley’s comet,

Overview

Our popular image of Mark Twain is of a gruff, gray-haired eccentric, the outspoken literary giant who created enduring novels such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

But once upon a time, Mark Twain was a boy named Samuel Clemens. His birth on November 30, 1835, coincided with the appearance of Halley’s comet, streaking across the sky. A dreamer, a prankster, a lover of great tales, Sam Clemens spent his boyhood years living out adventures on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River.

Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him “a current pacesetter who has put the finishing touches on the standards for storyographies.” He lives in New York with his family.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With his usual solid research and pen-and-ink and watercolor wash accompaniment, Don Brown examines the young life of Samuel Clemens in American Boy: The Adventures of Mark Twain. The author examines the boy's rebellious nature and the adventures that found their way into his books (the character of Huck Finn, for instance, was based on Sam's friend Tom, who was "ignorant, unwashed, and insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as any boy had," according to Sam); Brown also tells how Sam adopted his pen name from a term used by a steamboat crew to indicate the water's depth. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Don Brown's latest picture-book biography gives an enormously appealing portrait of young Sam Clemens, who spent an idyllic, if poverty-stricken, childhood playing hooky, sneaking out of bed to roam through the sleeping town of Hannibal, playing at outlaws and highwaymen in the forest (Sam and his friends would "rather be outlaws for one year in Sherwood Forest than President of the United State forever"), exploring haunted McDowell's Cave, "drowning" nine times in the Mississippi before he learned to swim, and listening to the stories of Uncle Dan'l, a slave owned by Sam's uncle-in short, doing all the things that would someday be immortalized as the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Sam quit school at fifteen to be apprenticed to a printer, left home for good at seventeen, and failed as both a Confederate soldier and a silver prospector before becoming an American icon as author Mark Twain. The story of Sam's life, simply and eloquently told in Brown's carefully crafted text and large, inviting watercolors, is remarkably heartwarming and inspirational. The small, weak boy whose mother, at his birth, "could see no promise in him," and who idled away a (deliciously) misspent youth, wrote books that "delighted most people, offended others, and made everyone think." A wonderfully, quietly moving tribute to one of America's greatest writers. 2003, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 6 to 10.
— Claudia Mills
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-Echoing Twain's voice, this picture book biography gets to the heart of his work. "The books were read everywhere. They delighted most people, offended others, and made everyone think. They still do." Watercolor illustrations capture characters and times with understated skill. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Brown begins his beautifully constructed picture-book biography with young Sam’s dangerous escapade on the frozen Mississippi River. Focusing on childhood incidents that will later appear in Twain’s books, Brown cunningly recalls the opening event in his conclusion: "Bye and bye, he remembered his boyhood, the glad morning of his life. As if skating ice cakes on a frozen river, Sam skipped from memory to memory and wove together great tales. . . . " Brown’s eloquent, old-fashioned language echoes Twain’s own words, also generously sprinkled throughout. "My literature attracted the town’s attention, but not its admiration," Brown quotes. Like his subject, Brown also skips from incident to incident, telling just enough to hold the reader’s interest, and like Twain, he makes the reader think, with his handling of such incidents as young Sam’s response to slavery, and his friendship with the outcast Tom Blankenship (the model for Huck Finn). Lively watercolors deftly depict Clemens’s exuberant character and youthful shenanigans, while their subdued tones are nostalgic. Includes bibliography and author’s note. (Picture book/biography. 8-10)
From the Publisher

"Brown continues to apply his understated humor and muted watercolors to larger-than-life personalities in picture book biographies." School Library Journal, Starred

"Beautifully constructed…Brown's eloquent, old fashioned language echoes Twain's own words." Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“The boyhood of writer Samuel Clemens is irresistible, with much of his youth inspiring scenes in his works that have become folklore in their own right. Brown does a spirited job of telling some of those stories.” Booklist, ALA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547349855
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/22/2006
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
32
File size:
21 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him "a current pacesetter who has put the finishing touches on the standards for storyographies." He lives in New York with his family.

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