HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Mark Twain and the River
Author: Sterling North
Illustrator: Victor Mays
Publisher: Puffin, republished in 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0395072509 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0395072506 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0142412350 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 014241235X (Paperback)
Related website: http://www.penguin.com/youngreaders (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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North, Sterling. Mark Twain and the River (published in 1961 by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA; republished in 2009 by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group of the Penguin Group, 345 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are among the best-known and most-loved characters in American fiction. As everyone remembers, Tom and Huck camped out on an island, got lost in a cave, and visited an old graveyard at midnight; they even attended their own funeral! The adventures of these two mischievous boys were based upon the author Mark Twain’s real boyhood experiences along the Mississippi River. Thus, most people are at least somewhat familiar with the career and work of Mark Twain. But did you know that Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens?
In this fascinating biography, writer Sterling North, whose Rascal was a Newbery Honor book, traces Mark Twain’s life from 1835, when his birth was heralded by Halley’s Comet, to 1910, when the comet returned upon his death by author. As in his other biography recently republished by Puffin, Young Thomas Edison, North focuses most of his attention in the book on Twain’s younger years, covering his later life briefly in the last couple of chapters. There are a few references to drinking whiskey and smoking a pipe, but it would be hard to discuss Mark Twain without at least mentioning these habits of his. Otherwise, this well-written account of Twain’s famous life, which is intended to be on a level for older children, is sure to keep their attention while teaching them some interesting history.