Cover image for American boy : the adventures of Mark Twain
American boy : the adventures of Mark Twain
Brown, Don, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2003.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
Provides a brief biography of the noted American writer who was born Samuel Clemens.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.5 0.5 73480.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PS1332 .B76 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Rare Books-Appointment Needed
Dudley Branch Library PS1332 .B76 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library PS1332 .B76 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Lackawanna Library PS1332 .B76 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Our popular image of Mark Twain is of a gruV, gray-haired eccentric, the outspoken literary giant who created enduring novels such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
But once upon a time, Mark Twain was a boy named Samuel Clemens. His birth on November 30, 1835, coincided with the appearance of Halley's comet streaking across the sky. A dreamer, a prankster, a lover of great tales, Sam Clemens spent his boyhood years "in high feather," living out adventures along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. His beloved river would eventually carry Mark Twain far beyond Hannibal, Missouri, but he would return to the freedom, innocence, and vitality of his youth again and again in his writing.
In glowing watercolors and spirited text, Don Brown reveals the glad morning of Twain's life, now the classic American boyhood, and the forces that inspired his funny, irreverent, insightful, and groundbreaking works of fiction.

Author Notes

Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him "a current pacesetter who has put the finishing touches on the standards for storyographies." He lives in New York with his family.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

K-Gr. 3. The boyhood of writer Samuel Clemens is irresistible, with much of his youth inspiring scenes in his works that have become folklore in their own right. Brown does a spirited job of telling some of those stories. Young Sam--born when comet Halley streaked through the sky--was a dreamer and a prankster in Hannibal, Missouri. His buddies, his cave explorations, and, above all, the Mississippi River figured large in his life and later in his prose. Brown's strengths as an artist, making evocative vistas and suggesting architecture and flora, are in evidence here as in all his picture books, but he is less successful as a figural artist: faces sometimes seem unfinished and figures oddly formed. Young readers, however, will be so taken by the energy of his narrative that they may not notice. Pair this with William Anderson's River Boy (2002) for a vivid storytime. --GraceAnne DeCandido Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

With his usual solid research and pen-and-ink and watercolor wash accompaniment, Don Brown examines the young life of Samuel Clemens in American Boy: The Adventures of Mark Twain. The author examines the boy's rebellious nature and the adventures that found their way into his books (the character of Huck Finn, for instance, was based on Sam's friend Tom, who was "ignorant, unwashed, and insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as any boy had," according to Sam); Brown also tells how Sam adopted his pen name from a term used by a steamboat crew to indicate the water's depth. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-6-Brown continues to apply his understated humor and muted watercolors to larger-than-life personalities in picture-book biographies. This portrayal of Samuel Clemens opens with a forbidden nocturnal ice-skating escapade, a disclaimer, and a justification. Brown frames the foolishness, but lets his subject have the last flippant word. These quoted phrases pepper the text, enhancing the flavor. In covering Clemens's childhood, Brown manages to slip in facts while elaborating on moments and realities that shaped the storyteller-his risking health and safety for adventure, soaking in the tales of his mother and "Uncle Dan'l" (a slave), serving as a printer's apprentice, and writing for newspapers. Double-page paintings of the haunted cave, the mighty river, and the night sky heighten the drama as they pit the plucky boy against his world. Brown uses light, color, and clarity of detail to draw focus to his protagonist in subtle, but effective ways. Adults will recognize the characters and settings that inspired Clemens's fiction; some of these connections are spelled out for children. A brief note touches on the acclaim and disdain surrounding the writer's work. Cheryl Harness's Mark Twain and the Queens of the Mississippi (S & S, 1998) ties the man's destiny to the river's. William Anderson's River Boy (HarperCollins, 2003) devotes more space to Clemens's adult life, and the art is more painterly. Brown's engaging text packs more punch and provides an entertaining introduction to an American legend.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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