Tag Archives: children’s books

Thar She Blows!

All hands on deck!  I spy more whales!
It’s time to share another used book sale find!

The book is called Tenggren’s Pirates, Ships, and Sailors.  Written by Kathryn and Byron Jackson, it’s ”A Golden Book” that was originally published in 1950.  Gustaf Tenggren is the illustrator.

The copy I found is from 1971 and with a cover like this… well, the book had to come home with me.

Pirates, Ships, and Sailors is heavy on the pirates, ships, and sailors, but I did find the following whaling poem with this fantastic illustration.

The Whale, the Whale
by Kathryn and Byron Jackson

 “Leave the salt sea to me!”
Says the whale.
Chase him–he’ll break up your boats                                Blowing his spout,
With his tail.                                                                       Rolling and tolling, big as a ship,
Seek him–he’ll hide                                                           With a whale of a smile
In the depths of the sea,                                                   On his whale of a lip!
Deep in the shadowy, fathomless sea,                             Sing out, “She blows!”
Down with the trembling anemone,                                  And then look out–
Down with the wrecks of ships                                         He’ll disappear with a flip of his tail,
He’ll hide.                                                                          “My terrible tail,”
Under the waves,                                                              Says the terrible whale.
Under the tide,                                                                  And he may come up twenty miles away,
“Deep in the dark salt sea!”                                              Or half a world,
Says the whale.                                                                Or a year and a day,
“Leave it to me, the dark salt sea;                                    Or never again in the bright salt sea.
Leave the salt sea to me!”                                                “It just might be,
Start for home, and he’ll rise again                                   You’ll never see me again in the sea!”
Up to the surface,                                                             Says the whale.

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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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A Needed Whaling Break

Last weekend my children and I dashed to our local library’s used book sale.  My three know the routine.  Mom will help you dig through the children’s books and then you will patiently wait with your books in hand while she rummages through the grown-up titles.  You may even read your desired purchases while sitting under the very tables mom is perusing.

This time I struck out in the adult books, but look what my middle child found in the kids’ section.

“Mom, you need this.”

The book’s flyleaf says:

“Carol Carrick brings the golden age of American whaling to life in her detailed, tightly written text that traces the history of the whaling industry to the present day.  David Frampton’s woodcut illustrations portray the awesome power and beauty of the whales.” 

He was right!  I did need this book.  It’s not only informative but beautiful.  I wish I’d read it before starting Moby-Dick.  It would have helped me understand all of Melville’s whaling terminology.  I especially love this illustration.  Each of the sections of the ship above and below deck are labeled.  Remember the cutting room?

Who would have thought that I’d be happy to return to whaling in the middle of reading Madame Bovary


Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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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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Don’t Read Moby-Dick!

It’s not a secret that I enjoy reading children’s versions of our classic novels.  I borrow them from the library, bring them home from thrift stores, and blog about them.

My children know that their mama reads and blogs, but they haven’t expressed much interest in reading the adaptations I find.  Until now.

Folks, I know the secret to getting children to read the classics.

Discourage it!

Here’s how it went down at our house.  My Great Illustrated Classics Moby-Dick was sitting by the computer.

Child number 1 asks, “What’s this?”
Me: “It’s for the blog.  Please leave it alone.”
Child 1: “For the blog?”   (This child wants her own blog and did read a children’s version of Pilgrim’s Progress.)
Me: “Yes. I need it to write a post, so don’t bother it.”

I leave the room, come back, and find child 1 curled up reading the book.

Me: “Are you reading my book?  Please don’t read that book.  I need it for the blog.  You’ll finish it so quickly, and I’m not even on the Pequod.  My book has 527 pages!  You don’t want to read Moby-Dick.  Let’s go for a walk.  I’m going for a walk.  Want to come?”
child 1: continues reading
Me: “Alright.  Fine.  You can stay home, but don’t read too fast.  Please!”

I return from my walk.  Child 1 has finished the book.  In an hour.

Child 1 suggested that when I do get to the last few chapters of MD, I may want to read it in the bathroom because there’s a lot of boat rocking and she’s worried I’ll get motion-sick.  How thoughtful.

I threw a fit and celebrated at the same time.
My child read an adaptation of Moby-Dick!  She read a classic!  Granted a shorter version of the classic, but a classic!  Hooray!  And she finished before I did!  Whaaahhhhh!

So what did child 1 do then?  She gave the book to child 2 who ran upstairs with it, ignoring my protests of “No! No! I need to be the next one to finish Moby-Dick!”  The next morning child 2 showed me that he had twenty pages left to read.  I demanded he hand over the book.  He laughed and spent the rest of breakfast whispering to his sister about different parts of the book.

Child 2 packed the Illustrated Classics version in his backpack and took it to school to finish.  Child 1 snagged my spare copy of Moby-Dick to take with her.  The unabbridged novel is worth 44 Accelerated Reader points, and she might have some spare time to read during achievement tests this week.

I’m miffed and pleased all at once.

Moby-Dick: a pop-up book

At least I’m safe from child 3 finishing Moby-Dick before me.
Until this library hold comes in…


Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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Great Illustrated Melville

Look what I have!

When I first started Moby-Dick, I thought I might need a little help, so I went right to my children’s school library where I found the Great Illustrated Classics version.  Ismael quickly drew me in and before I knew it, I had read several chapters.

But since this is a DIY master’s class, I figured an abridged version might not make the cut.  I’m back to reading the real deal and enjoying it so far.  Although I’m kind of missing the illustrations.


Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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Illustrated Olliver Twisted

I’ve decided to give myself an endorsement on my DIY Master’s Degree.  My endorsement shall be in “Children’s Adaptations of Classic Novels”: the faithful and the unfaithful.

Here’s the latest book. In addition to Oliver Twist, the book contains the following stories:

  • Bleak House
  • Great Expectations
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • David Copperfield
  • The Life and Times of Charles Dickens

I enjoyed the Usborne Illustrated Classics for Boys, but I take issue with this book of tales from Dickens.

Like the original story, Oliver is born in a workhouse to a mother who dies immediately after childbirth. 

Oliver grows up in the workhouse and says his famous, “Please sir, I want some more” line. 

The chimney sweep Gamfield is mentioned, but the appearance before the magistrate is omitted.  Oliver is apprenticed to Sowerberry and meets Noah Claypole. After fighting with Claypole, Oliver runs away to London and meets Dodger, Fagin, and Sikes.

Brownlow and his housekeeper are part of the story, but here’s where the minor changes become major changes.  The Maylie Family is never mentioned: not even once. And Grimwig?  He’s not in this book.

Prepare yourself for more changes!  When Oliver is shot during the house-breaking, it is Nancy who rescues him from the ditch where Sikes left him.  Nancy contacts Brownlow and brings Oliver to meet him on London Bridge.  They are followed by Sikes who shoots Nancy on the bridge. 

Sikes flees the gathering crowd by climbing on the roof of a nearby house.  Sikes is accidentally hung and the dog falls to his death.  I had to include the next illustration after yesterday’s post.

The book comes to a quick close when Brownlow produces Oliver’s mother Agnes’ locket.  He got it from Mr. Bumble’s wife Mrs. Mann.  Everything is quickly wrapped up and Oliver goes to live with Brownlow.

Remember Monks?  You wouldn’t from this tale.  He’s not included.

Oh, I get it… This story is from Usborne’s Illustrated (and incredibly, loosely based) Stories from Dickens.

I’ve enjoyed comparing the children’s books to the originals.  My two older children have read both of the Usborne Illustrated books that I’ve brought home from the library.  These little books are colorful and inviting, but I wonder if these adaptations are a good idea.  Someday in high school will they come back to me and ask, “There are four parts to Gulliver’s Travels?”  Or perhaps they’ll say, “Reading that kid’s version of Oliver Twist when I was eight was a little like watching a based-on-a true-story-made-for-tv movie: the character names were the same, but that was where the similarities ended.”


Posted by on December 31, 2011 in Oliver Twist


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