I was in my library last week and instead of meandering over to new picture books and novels, I found myself purposely in the nonfiction section looking for a book to read. If the shelves could talk, I think they would have said, “What took you so long?!” But better late than never for there I was, browsing nonfiction titles.
I had heard a lot about The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley on various children lit blogs so when I saw the book displayed, I grabbed it.
Barbara Kerley writes on the book jacket that she had always been interested creating a book about Mark Twain. When she learned that his thirteen year old daughter had written an autobiorgraphy of her dad, Kerley decided that the time was right to tell her story. Told both by a narrator and in Susy Twain’s own words, we learn many interesting facts about the great writer. Each of Susy’s contributions are written on small pieces of paper that unfold from the book as her journal would have and appear to be written in her hand.
While I found the facts of the story and the style of it to be fascinating, what I loved most was the view into a little girl’s journal.
For the past month or so, I have finally reinvigorated my daily writing practice. The other day, I saw the clock ticking and realized I was not going to get to my writing unless I wrote after the girls went to bed, which I’ve done but not terribly successfully. That was when I had a brainstorm. Why couldn’t I write with them? Katherine, our four year old, was entertained elsewhere but Caroline, our seven year old, was eager to join me. I sent her upstairs to get one of her many notebooks as she writes all the time. When we sat down at the dining room table together, I wondered why we hadn’t done this before, why writing had been a solitary task for each of us. We both relaxed into our writing and when we were done, we shared. At first, Caroline was hesitant to read her writing aloud and after reading it, I knew why. She had written openly and honestly using words that I know she wouldn’t have spoken out loud to me.
I am anxious to share The Extraordinary Mark Twain with her as we continue our ongoing conversation about the power of journaling.