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*The Adventures of Tom Sawyer* by Mark Twain- young readers book review


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
Ages 9-12 272 pages Penguin Classics February 2006 Paperback    

Mark Twain, one of the most renowned American writers of all time, is a name familiar to most of us. While it is well known that Samuel Clemens used "Mark Twain" as an alias, few are aware that the pseudonym came from language used by those who once ran the great riverboats in the 1800s: leadsmen would use the term to signify that the waters ahead were safe.

John Seelye, a consulting editor for Penguin Classics in American Literature, provides an intellectual historical biography of Samuel Clemens in the introduction. Readers will be taken on a tale of the rise and fall of Clemens’ fortunes, the loss of family and, finally, of hope. The Introduction and foreword create an impression of Clemens as an eccentric character with some self-destructive habits. As a writer, he was a humorist with a burning desire to preserve the days of his youth. His first major book was published in 1869, his last in 1894 – in total, the author published at least 12 books in his lifetime.

Nothing is held back from the reader in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Superstition and slaves are intermixed with poverty, hunger and adventure. See the world in the nineteenth century. In fact, view the world as you once did, where time froze as you became entranced by the inchworm’s antics, when you once took notice of the hairs on a blade of grass.

Tom is like a young colt, full of uninhibited emotion. He is not mischievous nor does he have a bone of evil in him, yet he is involved in all kinds of adventures, including saving an innocent man, falling in love, and discovering treasure. His lack of interest in school is contradicted by his sharp intelligence, ability to memorize entire plays, and love of reading.

Supporting characters may soon become the reader’s favorite. Poor Aunt Polly, who fusses over him in an effort to make Tom conform, is frustrated by his wildness. Tom’s best friends, Joe Harper and Huckleberry Finn, often join him on his wild and sometimes scary adventures.

The original publication of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was in 1876. Norman Rockwell’s work graces the cover of the most recent publication of this children’s classic. This image depicts a scene in the book where Tom fools the neighborhood children into doing his assigned chore.

Of particular interest is how Twain creatively refers to other classic literature of the time such as Robin Hood, The Black Avenger and Byron. Helpful explanatory notes reveal the historical significance of some of the scenes in the book and define terms we no longer use in modern times. Located at the back of the book are recommended resources, which are sub-grouped into three headings: biography, social and cultural studies, and criticism.

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  Lillian Brummet/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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