July 15, 2016
The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
The Extraordinary Mark Twain
(According to Susy)
by Barbara Kerley
illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
It’s easy to see why people thought they knew a lot about Mark Twain. After all, the papers were also writing about him and quoting him. People read his books and essays too. But Susy Twain realized that they didn’t know him at all so she decided to write a book and set the story straight.
At first, Susy wrote the book in secret. She watched her Papa closely and wrote about his quirks and the things that made him unique. She told about his boyhood, his public life and how he worked late into the night. One day, Mama found the book and showed it to Papa. Susy’s secret was out! But that didn’t stop her from writing.
The difference was that now Papa sometimes said and did things just so that Susy would put them in her book. Susy wrote and wrote and she didn’t write about just the good things. Papa approved because Susy was giving a picture of the whole man. In the end Susy wrote 130 pages about her Papa.
Kerley’s text weaves a story of this very complicated man, discussing not only Twain but Twain as portrayed by Susy. Susy’s words are presented throughout the text as mini journals, inviting the reader to open the cover (lift the flap) and sample Susy’s words.
Fotheringham’s digital illustrations often resemble pen and ink. I especially enjoyed the deep colors used throughout.
My father has always been a Twain enthusiast and I enjoyed this portrayal of Twain and his daughter, Susy. Not only does the reader learn a lot about Twain but also about the love and respect he and his daughter had for each other. Special thanks to my Dad for sharing his love of Twain with me.