Sunday, August 16, 2009

Great and Sublime Fool: The story of Mark Twain

Caravantes, Peggy Great and Sublime Fool: The story of Mark Twain
Morgan Reynolds 2009 176p 28.95 978-1-59935-088-2 ms/hs
World Writers (Morgan)(This series has been on our Books of Note Lists several times in past years. )

This detailed biography connects his life to his writings. Twain's humor comes through in direct quotes. His up and down financial status and his vulnerability coupled with fixed beliefs in a new typesetting machine is captured in the title of the book. Grades 7-12. If a student wishes to understand Twain/Clemens; his humor, his inspirations, his vulnerability, his brilliance, and his popularity, this is the place to start. Caravantes connects Twain's life to his writings. Showing Twain's social, political, and religious beliefs as they are presented in his lectures, writings, and friendships, the reader will realize that Twain was ahead of his time in many ways. His wanderlust took him across the United States and Europe, finding a human story everywhere he went. The importance of family to Twain is clearly presented including his marriage, his children and the impact they had on him and his writing. While most likely a difficult man to live with, his love and concern for immediate family were a constant in his life. His inventions outside of writing met with little success. When faced with monetary woes, he always bounced back with another piece of writing. Quotations from Twain show his humorous side. Photographs of family and acquaintances give a flavor of the early 20th century to contemporary readers. A timeline, bibliography, and index complete the book. A very engaging writing style coupled with an attractive format will make this book a hit with student researchers or those who just want to know more about Mark Twain. Strongly recommended for grades 7-12. L. McNicol

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