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The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild Westby Sid Fleischman
Synopses & Reviews
"Mark Twain was born fully grown, with a cheap cigar clamped between his teeth." So begins Sid Fleischman's ramble-scramble biography of the great American author and wit, who started life in a Missouri village as a barefoot boy named Samuel Clemens.
Abandoning a career as a young steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, Sam took a bumpy stagecoach to the Far West. In the gold and silver fields, he expected to get rich quick. Instead, he got poor fast, digging in the wrong places. His stint as a sagebrush newspaperman led to a duel with pistols. Had he not survived, the world would never have heard of Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn—or red-headed Mark Twain.
Samuel Clemens adopted his pen name in a hotel room in San Francisco and promptly made a jumping frog (and himself) famous. His celebrated novels followed at a leisurely pace; his quips at jet speed. "Don't let schooling interfere with your education," he wrote.
Here, in high style, is the story of a wisecracking adventurer who came of age in the untamed West; an ink-stained rebel who surprised himself by becoming the most famous American of his time. Bountifully illustrated.
How does one write a biography of Mark Twain (1835-1910), who held that "a lie well told is immortal" and stretched the facts of his own life? Newbery-winning author Sid Fleischman answers with this wonderfully well-told account of Twain's formative years, his entertaining fabrications and a bewitching procession of ornery riverboat pilots, perilous stagecoach journeys and quixotic quests for gold.... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) It is so buoyantly written that the author seems to have been visited by the charming and restless spirit of young Twain himself. Fleischman makes room for Twain's words, showcasing his "talent for spring-loading his sentences with laughter," while also pausing to marvel at such 19th-century sights as a lone, unarmed Pony Express rider in the middle of his 1,800-mile dash. Twain was, of course, deeply concerned with the truth, and this biography chronicles his ravenous reading of everyone from Thomas Paine to Darwin, his attention to the details of the Mississippi and the untamed territory west of it, and his fascination with the fakery of fortune tellers. "The Trouble Begins at 8" (the title refers to a line Twain used to advertise his early public appearances) also grapples briefly with Twain's later career and family sorrows (only one child outlived him), but it is the stuff of his early life, which Twain transformed into a prize career on the lecture circuit and immortal works like "Huckleberry Finn," that take center stage. Abby McGanney Nolan regularly reviews children's books for The Washington Post Book World. Reviewed by Abby McGanney Nolan, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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Jane Austens popularity never seems to fade. She has hordes of devoted fans, and there have been numerous adaptations of her life and work. But who was Jane Austen? The writer herself has long remained a mystery. And despite the resonance her work continues to have for teens, there has never been a young adult trade biography on Austen.
Catherine Reef changes that with this highly readable account. She takes an intimate peek at Austens life and innermost feelings, interweaving her narrative with well-crafted digests of each of Austens published novels. The end result is a book that is almost as much fun to read as Janes own workand truly a life revealed. Includes bibliography and index.
Jane Austen novels have experienced a resurgence of popularity in the past half century, particularly among young people. She has hoards of devoted fans, and it seems that every year there is a new adaptation of her work, life, and characters. In this highly readable book, Catherine Reef explores the mystery that is Jane Austen, beginning by tantalizing readers with passages from Austen's last, unfinished novel. She sets the stage for Jane's own story with rich details of early 19th-century society life in England, and reveals particulars about Jane's close-knit family, her experiences, and personality. She provides speculation on Austen's own romantic foibles and lost true loves. Throughout Reef includes commentary of Austen's six published novels. At last young readers have a biography on one of their most beloved writers!
About the Author
Since his autobiography, The Abracadabra Kid: A Writer's Life, was published in 1996, Sid Fleischman has been stealing the spotlight with his exuberant brand of nonfiction. Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World is Fleischman's fourth true tale, following the widely acclaimed The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West and the best-selling Escape! The Story of The Great Houdini.
Fleischman's books have been made into films, performed as plays, and translated into nineteen languages. The author was awarded the Newbery Medal for The Whipping Boy. His most recent novel is The Dream Stealer.
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