The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn

Common Sense Media says

Clever, fun bio's wordplay is best fit for school-aged kids.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Told in the voice of Huck Finn, this book presents basic information about Mark Twain, his most famous books and characters -- and a few remarkable facts, such as the fact that
Halley's Comet passed overhead the year Twain was born and 75 years later, in the year he died. This book's unusual storytelling style could lead to a discussion of regional dialects and creative spelling. Kids might even enjoy presenting this book as a classroom play. 

Positive messages

This book educates readers about Mark Twain and Huck Finn, and will get them thinking about the ways these characters lived their lives: learning, speaking out against injustice, like slavery and corrupt politics -- and spinning stories with long-lasting impact.



Positive role models

Both Mark Twain and Huck Finn were adventurous characters who loved the outdoors, especially the Mississippi River. They were life-long learners (though they preferred practical learning over the book kind), and lived their values. Most of all, they believed in telling the truth...except for the few "stretchers" to spice up a story.

Violence & scariness

Mark Twain enlisted to fight in the Civil War for about 2 weeks. It is mentioned that he left because he did not want to kill or be killed. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this biography of one of America's most famous authors, Mark Twain, is told in the voice of one of his most famous characters, Huck Finn. Folksy language, imperfect grammar, and creative spellings are all part of that voice. This unusual style makes the book fun to read aloud but may prove confusing to younger readers who tackle this book on their own. This may be a better fit for mid-grade readers who may have heard of the author and his character. This book presents basic information about Mark Twain, his most famous
books and characters -- and a few remarkable facts, such as the fact
Halley's Comet passed overhead the year Twain was born and 75 years
later, in the year he died. An editor's note in the back presents a timeline of further biographical details of Twain's life.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

After introducing himself, Huck Finn tells readers about the life of author Mark Twain, starting with his birth. As Huck says, this book is not intended to be "some windy bioografy" -- and it isn't -- though readers will learn the basic facts of this famous author, including Twain's real name and the books he wrote. Readers will also learn about his childhood, adventures, and the financial challenges he faced. A few pages in the front explain the book's format, and a timeline at the end provides dates for biographical details. The story is illustrated with New Yorker-style caricatures with backdrops painted in pastel brown, blue, and green watercolors.

Is it any good?


By hearing Twain's story told through the voice of his most famous character,
kids can learn about the lauded author -- and Huckleberry Finn -- in a way that's
both fun and dramatic. The clever wordplay may confuse younger readers, making this a better read-aloud book for them. Though it's a picture book, it's a better fit for mid-grade readers who may have heard of both of these characters and can make sense of the misspellings and folksy expressions.  They're sure to find the clever format and humorous illustrations engaging and appreciate the timeline that puts biographical details in context.

Though it only provides basic biographical information, this book makes the worlds of Huck Finn and Mark Twain seem very inviting. Kids will likely want to read more about both of them.   

Watercolors in pastel browns, blues, and greens create the backdrop for cartoon-like pen and ink sketches that look a bit like caricatures from the New Yorker magazine. While the illustrations may lack boldness of color found in most children's books, they are cleverly detailed and expressive. Also, print size is varied to show parts of paragraphs that should be read with greater emphasis. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the author used folksy language, creative spelling, and a mix of print styles to tell this story. What does that say about Huck Finn? How does that give you a sense of where this story took place, and what kind of person Mark Twain was?

  • What did you think about the way the author decided to have Huck Finn tell about Mark Twain's life? How do you think that added to the story? Or did it? Can you think of any other biographies that have been told this way?

  • The illustrations in this book look like caricatures.  How are caricatures different from other drawings? Besides showing what a character may have looked like, what else do they tell you? Do they add more to the story than real photographs might?

Book details

Author:Robert Burleigh
Illustrator:Barry Blitt
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publication date:March 8, 2011
Number of pages:48
Read aloud:7
Read alone:9

This review of The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 10 year old Written byErelasRyAlcar March 3, 2011

Huck's Voice, Twain's Life

The use of colloquial English is charming, and lends itself to being read aloud for the entertainment of young children, and older readers could be encouraged to choose voices and develop their own sense of the characters through reading aloud to younger siblings.
What other families should know
Educational value
Kid, 10 years old September 12, 2011


What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 13 years old Written byI'm 10 not 13 October 8, 2011


IT HAS THE N WORD PEOPLE "My kid can read this book 'cause i'm racist YAY" it's still good
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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