The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West
Age Range
8+
Release Date
July 29, 2008
ISBN
0061344311
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"Mark Twain was born fully grown, with a cheap cigar clamped between his teeth." So begins Sid Fleischman's ramble-scramble biography of the great American author and wit, who started life in a Missouri village as a barefoot boy named Samuel Clemens. Abandoning a career as a young steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, Sam took a bumpy stagecoach to the Far West. In the gold and silver fields, he expected to get rich quick. Instead, he got poor fast, digging in the wrong places. His stint as a sagebrush newspaperman led to a duel with pistols. Had he not survived, the world would never have heard of Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn—or red-headed Mark Twain. Samuel Clemens adopted his pen name in a hotel room in San Francisco and promptly made a jumping frog (and himself) famous. His celebrated novels followed at a leisurely pace; his quips at jet speed. "Don't let schooling interfere with your education," he wrote. Here, in high style, is the story of a wisecracking adventurer who came of age in the untamed West; an ink-stained rebel who surprised himself by becoming the most famous American of his time. Bountifully illustrated.

Editor review

1 review
Mark Twain and Sid Fleischman?!
Overall rating
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
0.0
Learning Value
 
0.0
Fleischman, Sid. 2008. The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain In the Wild, Wild West.

I loved Trouble Begins at 8. Loved it. Which is to say that I more than appreciated what it had to offer. More than saw it as a good nonfiction title. I mean really and truly loved, loved, loved it. Something I usually only reserve for fiction. Sid Fleischman is awesome. His writing is just amazing. His gift with words, his literary style, was just brilliant on this one. Listen to the first sentence of chapter one: "Mark Twain was born fully grown, with a cheap cigar clamped between his teeth." Open it up to almost any chapter, and you'll find that Fleischman has a way with words, with communicating simple facts in a unique and thoroughly charming way:

"Sam landed a dream job. He was fourteen years old, as Mark Twain was later to calculate. Scholars question his arithmetic. They add a couple of years. Apprenticed to a printer who published one of the two Hannibal newspapers, the Courier, he had the privilege of sweeping up, of running and fetching, and even of learning to set newspaper type--all without being burdened with a salary. Not a cent." (25)

In addition to the great biographical narrative, the book is liberal in its use of graphics--photographs, illustrations, etc. It also has all the bells and whistles it needs: Mark Twain's short story of the celebrated frog, a time line, references (end notes), bibliography, index, etc.
BL
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