Monday, February 27, 2012

Picture book Monday - A review of Bambino and Mr. Twain

Most of us have authors whom we greatly admire. One of my favorites is Samuel Clemens, whose nom de plume was Mark Twain. I like his books, but I think I like his story and the articles he wrote even more. Samuel Clemens was greatly admired in his own lifetime, which is wonderful for people like me because it means that many of his stories, speeches, and articles have been saved.

One of these stories is told in today's picture book. As I read the narrative, I found out that Samuel had a very dark period in his life, and that it took the loss of a cat to help him come out into the sunshine once more.

Bambino and Mr. TwainBambino and Mr. Twain
P.I. Maltbie
Illustrated by Daniel Miyares
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Charlesbridge, 2012, 978-1-58089-272-8
   Mr. Sam Clements (who is also Mark Twain) is grieving. His much-loved wife Livy has died, and poor Sam cannot seem to bring himself to engage in life the way he used to. His oldest daughter, Clara, is staying at a hospital, trying to recover from the stress and grief of losing her mother, and in her absence her cat Bambino is staying with Sam in his New York City house.
   These days, Sam does not go out and attend dinner parties. He does not want to meet any of his fans, and he never wears the white suits that Livy liked so much. Instead, he spends his days indoors, brooding on his loss and refusing to be comforted. The only person who seems to understand how he is feeling is Bambino. The cat plays with Sam and keeps him company as he lies in bed “reading, writing, and grumbling.”
   Then one day Bambino escapes from the house, and Sam is so upset that he posts an announcement in the newspaper offering a reward of five dollars to anyone who finds Bambino and brings him home. People from all walks of life bring cats to Sam, offering to loan or give their pet to the famous author in the hope that having their cat in his home will stop him “from being sad.” Sam is greatly moved by the obvious affection his visitors have for him. Who knew that the loss of a cat could cause such a sensation.
   Based on a true story about Sam Clemens and his cat Bambino, this delightful picture book well charm readers who have an interest in Mark Twain’s colorful life story. Readers will be interested to see that the great man learns something very valuable from his encounter with Bambino. It would seem that there are times when animals can have a profound effect on our lives.
   An author’s note at the back of the book provides readers with further information about Sam Clemens and Bambino.

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