July 15, 2016

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 12:24 am by suebe2

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.


April 16, 2012

Those Rebels, John & Tom by Barbara Kerley

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:22 am by suebe2

Those Rebels, John and Tom
by Barbara Kerley
illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
AR 6.3

First things first — this book is one that everyone should read.  It teaches so much about U.S. history but it is also an astonishing lesson, without being preachy, about how to work together.

From childhood on, John Adams did things.  The wrestled, he boxed, he swam and few kites.  He was your quintessential rowdy boy.  Like many boys today, his favorite class would have been recess.

Thomas Jefferson on the other hand skipped recess to study Greek grammar.  He did things too but the things he loved were very different — reading, studying, dancing and playing the violin.  He was a gentleman through and through.

Both became lawyers but even there they had very different styles.  Adams loved arguing cases in the courtroom and would do so for hours at a time.  Jefferson hated speaking in public and, when forced to do so, was so quiet that people had a hard time hearing him.

But they were both passionate about the American colonies.  They saw a world of possibilities being held down by King George.

At first, the two man only noticed how different they were.  One short and outspoken.  The other tall and oh-so quiet.  But as they came to know each other they recognized their common patriotism.  They also came to believe that they could accomplish much more working together then they could working alone.  In the end, they convinced the delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence.

This is truly an amazing story.  Many of us tend to think if the delegates en mass, one group working together and with many things in common.  This helped me to see the many differences that would have existed between the delegates — differences in their families, their economic backgrounds and even their personalities.  And, most of all, it was a lesson in how very different people could be and still succeed in reaching a common goal.

With a sixth grade reading level, it should be no surprise that this text is long — just over 2000 words.  But, as should be clear from the subject matter, it isn’t for preschoolers and it in no way feels long.

Fotheringham’s striking illustrations reminded me vaguely of the School House Rock cartoons.  The style isn’t the same but both are colorful and expressive.

Pick this one up and see where the discussion that follows takes you.


November 22, 2008

What To Do About Alice?

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 4:28 am by suebe2

fotheringham1What To Do About Alice?  by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

Scholastic Press, 2008

AR Level 5.2

Think biography is ho hum?  Then pop open the covers of a marvelous adventure subtitled How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!

Kerley’s text is a fast-paced galloping tale about Alice who wouldn’t let leg braces, being a girl, or being the President’s daughter slow her down.   But seriously, should we really expect anything else from Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter?  Come on.  We’re talking Teddy Roosevelt!  Keeping that in mind, Alice is everything you would expect and more.  Learn how she lived her life to the fullest from the time she was a child way up into her eighties although for the full effect you’ll have to read the back matter too.

Book design creates a historic feel with a taller than wide format and illustrations that, though digital, pair with the text to contribute a wealth of historic detail. 

And don’t think that this book is just for girls.  The humor and sense of adventure as well as Emily Spinach will all appeal to boys as well.  

A great choice for kids who love real and true.  A great choice for the irrepressable child in us all.   



The taller than wide format and Fotheringham’s

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