Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Mark Twain: An American Star

Mark Twain: An American Star

Elizabeth MacLeod
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
Kids Can Press, 2008   ISBN: 978-1553379089

On the night when Samuel "Sammy" Clemens was born, a comet streaked across the sky. Despite the fact that her little son was not strong Sam Clemens' mother hoped that her son would have a "bright future." Of course we know now that Sam would go on to become one of America's most beloved and influential writers, but when he was young his life was very different from the one he would lead later in life.

When he was eleven Sam's father died and the family's financial situation – which was never very stable – became even more precarious. Sam was not able to attend school regularly because he had to work to bring in money. One of Sam's jobs was to help out in the local newspaper office. When his brother Orion opened his own newspaper, Sam went to work for him, learning the trade from the ground up. This would be the beginning of Sam's somewhat erratic career in the newspaper world.

Sam got several jobs working in printing offices around the country and then he took a break and worked as a Mississippi riverboat pilot. He continued to do this until the Civil War broke out, and then Sam drifted from place to place for a while, working in a number of jobs. Then, in 1862 he go a job as a reporter and he discovered that he loved to write – and he was good at it too. After a very low period in his life Sam went to visit the mining camps in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in California. Here he heard a funny story which he wrote down. This story would launch his career as a writer.

Today it is hard to imagine a world without Mark Twain's wonderful stories in it. His tales have not only entertained thousands of people around the world, but they also have had a big impact on the book world as a whole, and they have encouraged people to think and talk about controversial and painful subjects. This excellent Snapshots title tells Mark Twain's story in an interesting and entertaining way. The book is full of photographs, background information about Mark Twain's world, quotations, and more. This book will help young readers to not only understand what Mark Twain was like but it will also help them appreciate his wonderful books even more.