Booklist (December 1, 2009 (Vol. 106, No. 7))
Two texts run though this unusual book. The first is Kerley’s account of Samuel Clemens’ 13
old daughter, Susy, who decides to write her father’s biography in her journal. The second is a
series of excerpts from that actual biography, neatly printed
in scriptlike font with Susy’s misspellingsintact. These entries appear on smaller, folded pages, each marked “JOURNAL,” that are tipped into the
gutters of this large-
format picture book’s double
-page spreads. Though a story about someone writing abook sounds a bit static
and it sometimes is
Kerley manages to bring Susy and her famous father tolife using plenty of household anecdotes. With a restrained palette and a fine sense of line,
Fotheringham’s stylized, digital illustrations are wonderfully freew
heeling, sometimes comical, and as
eccentric as Susy’s subject. Appended are author’s notes on Samuel and Susy Clemens, tips on writing a
biography, a time line, and source notes for quotes. An original.
Horn Book (January/February, 2010)
At age thirteen, Susy Clemens wrote a biography of her father, Mark Twain, an undertaking that informsthis unusual account covering both Susy as biographer and Twain as biographee. Kerley details Susy'sprocess of writing about and observing her father ("She noted his habits. She described his fine qualities.She even described his not-so-fine qualities"), mentioning that Susy would often include primary sources(such as a silly poem he wrote about their donkey) in her biography. Similarly, Kerley also uses primarysources, inserting seven small facsimiles of Susy's journal pages (complete with "frequently desperate"spellings) into the body of the book. Separate fonts represent Kerley's narrative, Susy's direct quotes, andTwain's own words. Fotheringham's muted palette and large, sturdy illustrations provide discreetcounterpoint to this complicated design. The target audience may not be familiar with Twain's work for afew more years, and Kerley's author's-note references ("Ernest Hemingway said that 'all modern American literature comes from...Huckleberry Finn'") may be lost on middle-grade readers. The art of writing is not, however, and an appended guide to writing biographies sums up Susy's approach.Backmatter also includes a time line of Twain's life and source notes.
Horn Book starred (Fall 2010)
Thirteen-year-old Susy Clemens's biography of her father informs this account covering both biographer and biographee. Kerley details Susy's process of writing about and observing her father, using primarysources and inserting seven small facsimiles of Susy's journal pages into the book. Fotheringham's mutedpalette and large, sturdy illustrations provide discreet counterpoint to a complicated design. Timeline.
Ferdinand Magellan / by Mervyn D. Kaufman.
3.0Library Media Connection 10/01/04
Fossils / On Deck Earth Science Library, Earth Rocks