Thirteen year old Susy took offense when the "experts" only thought of her father, Mark Twain, simply as an author or humorist. Susy felt they didn't really know her father, thinking he joked at everything. She knew him much more deeply, saying "I never saw a man with so much variety of feeling as Papa has." Susy decided to write a biography in order to "set the record straight." She lovingly wrote of her father's qualities, both admirable and not so admirable. When he read her biography, Twain could not have been prouder. He really liked how "she didn't cover up one's deficiencies but gave them an equal showing with one's handsomer qualities." Twain was so pleased that parts of Susy's biography were incorporated into his own autobiography which was written ten years after Susy's untimely death at age 24.
Barbara Kerley has crafted a wonderful story of the loving relationship between a famous figure and his daughter with The Extraordinary Mark Twain(According to Susy). Edwin Fotheringham created humorous and poignant illustrations for this book. The cover says a lot about the affection Susy showed, in her writing, towards her father. As a father of two daughters, Kerley's story touched me and made me think about the blessings of the bond of fathers and daughters.
This book would be a terrific introduction to the life and works of Mark Twain. Younger students will appreciate Twain's unique behavior and older students will gain valuable background knowledge before reading one of his novels or short stories. Click on this link to reach Barbara Kerley's guides for using her books in your classroom.