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Photo of a boy and his frog
Frog-jumping contest participant

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National Tom Sawyer Days
A Local Legacy

What do Tom Sawyer and jumping frogs have in common? Stories about both of them were created by one man: Mark Twain. Born Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain was his pen name), Twain was 4 when his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, located on the west bank of the Mississippi. Twain grew up there and was fascinated with life along the river -- the steamboats, the giant lumber rafts, and the people who worked on them.

"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" is one of Twain's best-loved short stories, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is one of his most famous novels. Both these works are celebrated by events held during National Tom Sawyer Days every fourth of July. The boy in the photo entered his frog in the jumping contest. There's also a fence-painting contest to see who can paint the fastest. The idea for this contest comes from a scene in Tom Sawyer, in which Tom has been told to paint the fence in front of the house he lives in. It's a beautiful day, and he would rather be doing anything else. As his friends walk by, he convinces them it's fun to paint, and they join in the "fun." By the end of the day, the fence has three coats of paint!

Although the story of Tom Sawyer is fiction, it's based on fact. If you go to Hannibal, you'll see the white fence, which still stands at Twain's boyhood home.

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