Tag Archives: adaptations for children

A Classic Start

Hi, faithful readers!

I’m Christine’s oldest child, and way back when, I promised that I would read Huck Finn.  I only read chapter 1.  I was definitely not the most faithful reader.  Today, I had nothing to read.  So Mom produced the Classic Starts adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I read it in about forty-five minutes.  I, personally, think that if you want to read classics but aren’t the best or most faithful reader, you should start with the adaptation.  For example, when I tried to read Pride and Prejudice, I got stuck on the second page because of difficult vocabulary and confusing sentences.  Then I read the Great Illustrated Classics version and found it a lot simpler.  If you want to start reading this way, it’s easier.  When I read Moby-Dick, I found that the Classic Starts adaptation was more accurate than the Great Illustrated Classic version.ClassicStarts HF

I think that my favorite parts of the novel were when Tom Sawyer starts his gang and when he helps Huck free Jim.  He tries to imitate things he’s read in books, but finds that this is not always the best way to do things.  Sometimes its just better to do things simply.

Mom told me about how she has answer the question “What does the character want?”  I really don’t know what Huck’s ambition is.   Maybe Huck just wants adventure.  Maybe he has cabin fever. He’s stuck inside doing nothing and wants to go do outdoorsy activities.  What does Jim want?  He wants to be free and get back to his kids, even if it is without much wealth.  Tom’s ambition is to be adventurous.  He would like to be like the adventurous people he reads about in stories.  As for him doing things “like the books”, I wonder what books he read.

If I were to rename Huck Finn, I think I would call the book Huckleberry Finn: The Necessity of Good Parentage.  If Huck Finn’s father hadn’t been abusive, Huck wouldn’t have gone to Widow Douglas’s.  This would have totally avoided the parts when Huck’s father tried to find him, take him back to the cottage, and be abusive to him again which forced Huck to runaway and get into all kinds of weird problems.

Thanks for letting me share this adaptation of Mark Twain’s novel.


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The Illustrated Huck

illustrated huck finnMadame Bovary, Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina, The Return of the Native, and The Portrait of a Lady:  Not a one of these books is suitable for a children’s adaptation.  Finally, we reach The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn and I think to myself, “Yea!  Time to do some searching to see what’s out there for kids!”  Where’s the first place I looked?  Great Illustrated Classics of course!  It worked for Moby-Dick and Oliver Twist.

Friends, the Great Illustrated Classics have let me down.  I only made it to page twelve before being seriously disappointed.

We all met by a clump of bushes not far from the Widow’s house.  There was me and Tom and Ben Rogers and Tommy Barnes and Joe Harper.  We talked for a little while, and then we all took an oath of loyalty to the club.  We elected Tom captain and Joe Harper second caption, and then we started home.

What?  Is that how you remember the first meeting of Tom Sawyer’s gang?  What happened to signing the pledge in blood?   What happened to the ransoming discussion?Tom Sawyer's Gang

I skimmed the rest of the novel.  The meat is there, but there’s no seasoning.  No spice.    All the Twain flavor has been removed.

Let’s hope things improve with The Red Badge of Courage


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Girl reads Gulliver

This installment of “What’s on my nightstand?” is about a book that’s been on my nightstand for weeks.  Every free moment I have, I’m reading Anna Karenina, so I did what I’ve done before… I pawned the book off on one of my children.  May I present…

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver
retold by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Riddell

… and reviewed by this blogger’s daughter.

I chose to read this book because I thought it might be interesting.  The illustrations looked funny. (and because mom asked if anyone wanted to read the book and help her blog about it)

The book is about Gulliver.  He’s a sailor but he ends up going to all of these crazy places like with little tiny people, and huge people, and horses that talk.  He also visits an island and goes to Japan for a little bit.

Gulliver is pretty good in languages to be able to learn all the different ones so quickly.  He’s good with people.  He can talk himself out of the situations he gets himself into. 

My favorite section to read was the giants.  There’s no competition.  You know how girls like to play house with dolls?  That’s what it was like for Gulliver, except he was the doll.

My least favorite section to read was the house with all the ghosts.  I don’t like the idea of people coming back from the dead.  It was creepy how he talked to all the famous people like Alexander the Great.

The illustrations for this version were very good.  They helped you understand the story better.  With the Yahoos, you wouldn’t understand how bizarre they were without seeing the pictures.

I would read the story again.  It was fun to read and see all the places Gulliver went.

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver… It’s what’s on a blogger’s daughter’s nightstand.

PS.  I, Christine, did quickly peruse the book.  It’s very accurate and the illustrations are a great addition to the story.  Gulliver visits all of the same places as in the original.  Sometimes the book was even a little too accurate–going so far as to include an illustration of the Yahoos in the tree trying to… trying to… well, you remember the ban.


Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Gulliver's Travels


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Children and Uncle Tom’s Cabin

At our wrap-up discussion, Jeannette brought up the topic of children’s versions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  For previous novels I have delighted in scouring my library’s database for abridged and annotated children’s copies of our current book.  Jeannette said that she had seen children’s books adapted from Stowe’s classic: some versions focus on one part of the novel such as Topsy.  I promised myself that I would do some research now that summer is here.

I have found nothing.  Countless editions of the unabridged book but nothing specifically written for children.

I searched the Great Illustrated Classics: sixty-six books including such WEM titles as The Red Badge of Courage, Jane Eyre, and Moby-Dick, but no Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  There are over forty titles in the Classic Starts series but still no UTC.

My local library has a couple of children’s biographies about Stowe but nothing else.

Why?  In our wrap-up we discussed the writer’s style.  Stowe the abolitionist wanted to make sure that everyone who read her book understood everything she was saying.  While it took me a bit to “get into” reading the slave dialect, I relied very little on my kindle’s dictionary feature.  My children would be able to handle the vocabulary.

Why am I not finding this classic for children?

Is it the content?  Truthfully, I’ve debated about whether or not I should encourage my children to share in my classical experience; especially as we start Madame Bovary.  Book about adultery?  ummm not sure I want that on their summer reading list.  But a book about slavery?  I can’t imagine Mrs. Beecher Stowe shielded her children from this topic.

Help me out, blog friends.
Have you seen versions of Stowe’s book geared for children?


Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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