Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According To Susy)

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According To Susy)

Barbara Kerley
Illustrator:  Edwin Fotheringham 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Scholastic, 2010   ISBN: 978-0545125086

Susy has a famous father, Mark Twain, and she is convinced that all the people who think that they know her father don’t know him at all. They consider themselves “experts” on her father, and this makes her feel most “annoyed.” Susy decides that she is going to set the record straight. She is going to write a biography about her father in her journal.

With love and humor, Susy describes her father’s looks, his idiosyncrasies, his faults, and his gifts. She describes his childhood in Missouri, his marriage to her mother, how he spends his days, the adventures he has, and they way he shares his stories with his family as he is writing them. She paints a picture of a man who likes cats, who has little patience for annoying people, and who buys his children a very obstinate donkey as a pet.

Then one day, Mama finds Susy’s biography under her daughter’s pillow. She shows the precious book to her husband, who is “touched” that his daughter has chosen to write about him. Now, on occasion, Papa will give Susy material for her biography. He makes pronouncements that are funny and only half in jest, and Susy faithfully writes them down in her biography, complete with questionable spelling.

Based on Susy’s own words and on the words of her much-loved Papa, this picture book biography is a fascinating and entertaining read. By the end of the book, readers will have a very colorful and warm picture of one of America’s writers. Throughout the book, readers will find mini books that contain some of Susy’s journal entries.