Tag Archives: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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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The end of the road… I mean, river.

Huck Finn Check-in

We made it!  Christina, Jeannette, and I have safely docked after our river adventures.

How is your reading coming?  If you’re still on the voyage, please leave your place in the comments.

If you’ve finished, you can…

1. Pat yourself on the back for making time to read Twain.  Congrats on checking off another novel from our list!
2. Take this sparknotes quiz .
3. Start the WEM questions.  No stalling!
4. Search your bookshelves for our next title: The Red Badge of Courage.
5. Watch a movie version of the novel.  Maybe not this one, but there are several from which you may choose.
6. Read something for fun!


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Added to my Wishlist

I spent some time on Etsy this weekend doing a little window shopping.  On a whim I typed in Huckleberry Finn.  The very first listing charmed me.  Go ahead; take a look.

Yes, it’s a little book charm with our latest title and author’s name engraved on it.  I love it!  After admiring it for a few moments, can you guess what I did?  That’s right.  I searched the shop for other WEM titles.  I found six:  Huck Finn, Great Gatsby, Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Moby-Dick, and (yes, I was surprised as well) Portrait of a Lady.

I think a bracelet made up of WEM novel charms would be the perfect reward for completing the novel portion of my DIY master’s degree program.  It’s on my wishlist.


Posted by on March 6, 2013 in The Blog


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Where is his mother?

Huck FinnWhere is Huck’s mother?

We meet Huck’s father in early chapters of the book, but what about his mother?  Did I miss something?  Is Mrs. Finn mentioned in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?

When I brought up the mother issue up on Saturday’s run, Christina reminded me that the parents need to be absent to make a good story about children.  The children need to be abandoned, orphaned, lost, runaway, etc…   Need proof?  Take a look at most Disney movies.  Where are the mothers?

Back to Huckleberry’s mom… Where is she?


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Down the River

Huck Finn Check-inAre you enjoying your time on the raft?  Having lots of adventures?  Learning lots of new words?

Great!  Share your place in the comments.

Now get back in the wigwam and keep reading.


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A whatberry?

I confess that I didn’t know what a huckleberry was.  Did you?

Christina's photo of real Michigan blueberries

Christina’s photo of real Michigan blueberries

I had to do some research.  It turns out that a huckleberry is a blueberry.

Blueberry!  I know blueberries.  Here in Michigan we grow beautiful ones.  They’re huge (some as big as nickels), and juicy, and delicious, and… Can you tell I’m ready for the u-pick season to start?

Now, back to our book.  Why is our main character named Huckleberry?  I took a peek at The Annotated Huckleberry Finn to see if I could find out why.  Not native to Missouri, Twain learned about huckleberries while visiting Connecticut.

They are a new beverage to me… They are excellent.  I had always thought a huckleberry was something like a turnip.  On the contrary, they are no larger than buckshot.  They are better than buckshot, though, and more digestible.”  (from “Morality and Huckleberries” San Francisco Alta California, Sept. 6, 1868)

Again I ask, “Why bestow the fruit’s name on the boy?”  The Annotated HF says, “The word indicated something small and of little consequence.”

oh.  That’s a little sad.  I suppose Huck’s parents wouldn’t have lovingly poured over baby name books when selecting a moniker for their newborn.

That’s alright, Huck.  I like your name, and I like the fruit for which you were named.
I like it so much that I think I will pull out a package of frozen huckleberries and bake something more digestible than buckshot.


Posted by on February 26, 2013 in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


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It’s Adventure Time!

Huck Finn Check-in

It is called The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, you know.

So what’s the adventure in the chapter you are reading?

Wait.  Don’t tell me.  I want no promos or previews.  No sneak peeks or spoilers.
I’m enjoying Twain so much.  I needed a change from the desperate housewives we’ve been reading about for the past few novels.  This book makes me feel like spring has already come to Michigan.

Fellow adventurers, please share your chapter in the comments.


Posted by on February 25, 2013 in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


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In chapter 2 Huck sneaks out of the Widow’s home to attend Tom’s first official gang meeting.  There are some questions about what business the gang is in.  They quickly decide that they are not burglars.  They are highwaymen who “stop stages and carriages on the road, with masks on, and kill the people and take their watches and money.”  Not everyone in the gang seems thrilled with the idea of murder.  Tom is firm.

…Some authorities think different, but mostly it’s considered best to kill them–except some that you bring to the cave here, and keep them till they’re ransomed.”

It seems that the gang has some deficiencies in their knowledge of vocabulary and that they could have benefited from Christina’s “Classic Word of the Day” posts.

“Ransomed?  What’s that?”
“I don’t know.  But that’s what they do.  I’ve seen it in books; and so of course that’s what we’ve got to do.”

Tom finally decides that “Ransomed” means keeping hostages until they are dead.  The other gang members see this as a lot of work.

“Now, that’s something like.  That’ll answer.  Why couldn’t you said that before?  We’ll keep them till they’re ransomed to death; and a bothersome lot they’ll be too–eating up everything, and always trying to get loose.”

“Why can’t a body take a club and ransom them as soon as they get here?”

Can you imagine if Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn or Jim took over “Classic Word of the Day”?


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The Annotated Huckleberry Finn

_annotated_uncle_toms_cabin_Do you remember when The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin sat on my nightstand?  It was an absolutely beautiful book, and I wished I had been able to spend longer perusing its pages.  But my timing was off.  We were reading Crime and Punishment.  I didn’t have time to go back and reread Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  I couldn’t go back to the south and slavery.  I had a Russian double-homicide to investigate.
And so The Annotated UTC sat on my nightstand, sadly neglected.

But, look what I picked up at the library today!Annotated-Finn

The Annotated Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Edited with an introduction and notes by Michael Patrick Hearn

Go ahead!  Click on the picture of the book and make use of Amazon’s “search inside this book feature“.


I think this is one “What’s on my nightstand?” book that will get plenty of attention.


Posted by on February 22, 2013 in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


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