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

by Sid Fleischman

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19920102,169 (3.95)7
"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.… (more)

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» See also 7 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
A rip-snortin' author gets a rip-snortin' biography treatment. Fleischman's writing mimics Twain's humor and tall-tale style. From creative humorous old-style chapter titles to the well-placed generous illustrations and photos, this book for older readers is a folksy delight, well-researched as well as entertaining from start to fast-paced finish. My only quibble is that younger readers may need to have a dictionary handy as they read this, because there's quite a lot of old-fashioned or more archaic words in it. But that just adds to the nineteenth-century feel, I think. ( )
  GoldieBug | Mar 26, 2019 |
A thorough, detailed, beautifully written book about one of the most beloved authors of all time, Samuel Clemens, but we know him as the master-writer of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer... Mark Twain. Sid Fleischman has once again taken a topic that causes most kids to run screaming in the opposite direction - and made it interesting, intriguing and most importantly - Fun! You will thoroughly enjoy the wisecrack for which the book is named..."The Trouble Begins At 8."

The life of Mark Twain has been written about by some of the brightest minds, however, knowing these texts are written with a dialogue that will never reach children, Fleischman targets the young minds with his books. Not an easy task and yet he has been able to deliver the absolute perfect mix of educational information and entertainment to keep youngsters turning pages and parents happily observing. Sid Fleischman writes with an elegant, well-informed simplicity that immerses the reader, breathing life into the pages of the book, so much so that at the conclusion it feels more like you have spent time with these people as opposed to having read a book about them. Every character, as well as, each stage of Clemen's journey contributes depth and richness to the story and has been beautifully captured in this unique, highly entertaining biographical book that reveals the creation of Mark Twain. From his early days in Missouri, through his quite interesting personal adventures; as a steamboat pilot, mining for gold, dancing the 'kangaroo' in San Francisco, just to name a few.

While you may think you know all there is to know about Mark Twain you have never had the pleasure of reading anything quite like this. Complimenting the narrative are numerous black and white photographs that truly bring the legend to life. Often referred to as a 'gentlemen of leisure,' Mark Twain's life was above all, interesting. Sid Fleischman has captured the essence of this free-spirited writer that today is one of only a handful of authors counted as true masters of the pen. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in literature, regardless of age. Sid Fleischman is a talented writer and his ability to continually breath new life into old stories is unparalleled. This is an exceptionally well written and highly enjoyable read - Don't Miss it!

In today's high-tech, highly competitive market, I commend Harper Collins for delivering such unique, educational, fun titles ( )
  MrsRJ | Nov 5, 2018 |
This book pulls you in and holds your attention. Fleischman's storytelling is so reminiscent of Clemens that I often thought I was reading an autobiography.
Enjoyed the pictures throughout.
  JLT70 | Jul 28, 2016 |
While many students read Mark Twain's work, they may know nothing about his life. I think students will appreciate the cartoons and drawings, hopefully making it more appealing. ( )
  CelenaM511 | Dec 4, 2013 |
A re-telling of Mark Twain's life from childhood to the publication of his first writings (and subsequent fame) this is YA biography at its best: engaging writing (Fleishman is definitely channeling Twain), well-paced, well-referenced (does this librarian's heart good :-) and spiced with Twain's own words of wit & wisdom. In addition to all of this, we have wonderful archival photographs and drawings. Anyone, at any age, who wants to understand better the man who wrote the greatest American novel of all time, should read this. ( )
  mjspear | Sep 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Fleischman’s illustrated biography skips along hitting the high points of Twain’s life — especially his celebrated career as a Mississippi riverboat pilot, which ended with the Civil War — while fleshing out less well-known episodes, often in the writer’s own words.
 
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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.

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