The Trouble Begins at 8
A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West
By Sid Fleischman
(Greenwillow Books, Hardcover, 9780061344312, 224pp.)
Publication Date: August 2008
Other Editions of This Title: Library Binding
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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 Finnor 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.
Sid Fleischman wrote more than sixty books for children, adults, and magicians. Among his many awards was the Newbery Medal for his novel The Whipping Boy. The author described his wasted youth as a magician and newspaperman in his autobiography The Abracadabra Kid. His other titles include The Entertainer and the Dybbuk, a novel, and three biographies, Sir Charlie: Chaplin, The Funniest Man in the World; The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West; and Escape! The Story of The Great Houdini.
“With a Twainian lilt to the prose, the book mingles deftly shaped research with snippets from Twain’s writings.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“This biography of the writer who ‘changed literature forever’ sets a standard few can meet: it is top-notch entertainment.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The illustrations and photographs are rich and varied, and the back matter is a work of art in itself.”
-School Library Journal (starred review)
“The trouble—entertaining trouble indeed—begins on page one as Fleischman brings our national comedic treasure to life.”
-The Horn Book
“What truly sets this biography in a class by itself…is how enthusiastically Fleischman assumes Twain’s tone.”
-Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Highly enjoyable . . . No worthier Twain bio will cross a child’s path than this feisty tale.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)