________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 21. . . .June 13, 2008


Mark Twain: An American Star. (Snapshots: Images of People and Places in History).

Elizabeth MacLeod.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $7.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55337-909-6 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-908-9 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910-Juvenile literature.
Authors, American-19th century-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 /Ages 8-12.

Review by Janice Foster.

**** /4



But he changed his mind and began training to be a pilot on a Mississippi riverboat instead. ...He was also taught the special language the steamboat crew used. For instance, when the river was two fathoms deep - about 3.7 m (12 ft.) it was called "mark twain."


The "Snapshots: Images of People and Places in History" series by Elizabeth MacLeod, introduces young readers to people whose lives have impacted their world; scientists, inventors, artists and authors. Mark Twain: An American Star is more than a recounting of this famous author's life. MacLeod's style and the format of the book draw the reader into the fascinating life of Samuel Clemens. Although the intended audience is likely unfamiliar with many of the famous works of Mark Twain, his life story, filled with adventure, heartbreak and a wonderful sense of humour, will entertain and capture the reader's attention. Because of the era in which the story unfolds, young readers will be intrigued by the steamboats, the Civil War, the slaves and Twain's travels throughout the United States and the world. The references to the background behind his novels, like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn will entice some readers to explore these humourous works by this great American writer.

     Elizabeth MacLeod's writing flows easily, making the story both interesting and informative. It's amazing how the text, accompanied by such features as newspaper excerpts, captioned photographs, sketches, and cartoon bubbles filled with personal narration by Mark Twain himself in a caricature form, provides such a breadth of information in such a clear, condensed manner. The two page spread chapter format consists of textual information on a white background on the left side enhanced by the visual features on the right hand side. The muted background colours behind these visuals make the images clear and easy to read. Arrows draw the reader's attention from the caption to the picture and help connect the visual information to the text. A timeline of Twain's life and an index are found at the end of the book.

      Mark Twain: An American Star is an excellent addition to the biography section of any library. Not only will it appeal to readers who enjoy being introduced to fascinating people, but it might inspire some young people to realize their dreams as an author with the same drive and sense of humour as Samuel Clemens.

Highly Recommended.

Janice Foster is a teacher-librarian at Henry G. Izatt Middle School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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