I know, I know, it’s Tuesday. I didn’t get the NF Monday post done yesterday. Great intentions but school got away from me. It’s been a very difficult school year with the students. My heart goes out for them, wishing there was a way to make some of their lives more peaceful.
If you have yet to read about the CYBILS, they were announced yesterday. You can read about them HERE. In my category: Nonfiction Picture Book our committee rocked it with selecting The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy):
“This is a frank biographer and an honest one; she uses no sandpaper on me.”
~“Mark Twain on his daughter’s biography
Who better to write a biography of one’s life than one’s own daughter? Wouldn’t it be interesting if we had accounts of the lives of Ben Franklin or Eleanor Roosevelt or Thomas Edison written by their offspring? Sadly, we don’t, but happily we do have an account of the life of one of America’s most amazing writers, Mark Twain, penned by his daughter when she was only thirteen. Kerley, author of The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), weaves the biography Susy Clements wrote of her father Mark Twain with the tale of the writing of the biography itself, revealing, in a new way, the life of Twain. Children who were presented with this beautiful nonfiction picture book seemed to revel in the tale told from the point of view of a fellow child, “portrait of the funny, serious, absent-minded, cat-loving, billiard-playing, philosophical papa-the extraordinary Mark Twain.” The illustrations, including actual excerpts from Susy’s biography included as small mini-books inserted within the book, reflect the delightful spirit of Twain’s writings and capture the feel of the time period.
The Extraordinary Life of Mark Twain introduces young readers to this significant American writer in such a way that will spark curiosity to find out more about him. Despite Twain’s own assertion that “biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man “the biography of the man himself cannot be written….”, Kerley, using extensive documentation, timeline, and sources, has managed to create a brilliant biography of Mark Twain with literary value, artistic quality, and child appeal.
The committee agreed The Extraordinary Life of Mark Twain (According to Susy) was indeed extraordinary.
I did a blog post in OCTOBER on the book.
I tell you selecting the winner from seven finalists is a lot like selecting your favorite child. I mean look at these finalists:
Bones by Steven Jenkins (Scholastic Press)
Dinosaur Mountain: Digging Into the Jurassic Age by Deborah Kogan Ray(Farrar Straus Giroux)
Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Travares (Candlewick Press)
Sit In: How Four Friends Stood By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Little Brown Kids)
Skit–Scat Raggedy Cat by Roxane Orgill (Candlewick Press)
Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy (Simon and Shuster)
The Extraordinary Mark Twain (according to Susy) by Barbara Kerley (Scholastic Press)
Each title offers such a unique style, subject, and personality, they were deserving. In the end, Kerley’s book offered something more. It lingered with those who read the story. The excerpts from Susy’s journal cleverly added as in sets was value added. Any child who reads this book is likely to search for a subject to study for their own biography.
Stay tuned because as I am planning to interview Barbara Kerley with in the next month.
Finally, a HUGE thank you to my second round panelists:
Carol at Rasco from RIF
Deb at Reader Buzz
Franki at A Year of Reading
Kara at Not Just for Kids
Roberta at Wrapped in Foil
These panelists were fabulous to work with on the judging.