HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Who Was Mark Twain?
Author: April Jones Prince
Illustrators: John O’Brien and Nancy Sullivan
Publisher: Penguin Group USA, 2004
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Prince, April Jones. Who Was Mark Twain? (published in 2004 by Grosset and Dunlap, a division of Penguin Readers Group, 345 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). A few years ago, when we lived in St. Louis, MO, we visited the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, MO, and I picked up this book about the famous writer of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn whose real name was Samuel Langhorn Clemens. It is part of the “Who Was” series of biographies for young readers. We had previously purchased and read four others of them: Who Was Benjamin Franklin? by Dennis B. Fradin; Who Was Sacagawea? by Dennis and Judith B. Fradin; Who Was Annie Oakley? by Stephanie Spinner; and Who Was Albert Einstein? by Jess Brallier.
We have since obtained another one, Who Was King Tut? by Roberta Edwards. Some twelve others are also listed, including Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ferdinand Magellan, Harriet Tubman, Harry Houdini, Helen Keller, John F. Kennedy, Louis Armstrong, Maria Tallchief, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, and Wolfgang A. Mozart. As I have said before, they are not written from a “Christian” perspective but are fairly easy reading and give a reasonably good overview of the lives of each subject for children. I do not recall anything specifically objectionable in any of them. In Who Is Mark Twain? it is frequently said that Twain liked to smoke cigars, but that is, after all, a historical fact.