Sunday, May 18, 2014

Classic Double Challenge: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain AND The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Publication date: 1876
Pages: 209 (my kindle edition)
Source: Free e-book
For: Classic Double Challenge

The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: July 2014
Pages: 224
Source: ARC from the author
For: Classic Double Challenge (and review)

Summary of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (TS) from goodreads:
From the famous episodes of the whitewashed fence and the ordeal in the cave to the trial of Injun Joe, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is redolent of life in the Mississippi River towns in which Twain spent his own youth. A somber undercurrent flows through the high humor and unabashed nostalgia of the novel, however, for beneath the innocence of childhood lie the inequities of adult reality—base emotions and superstitions, murder and revenge, starvation and slavery.
Summary of The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher (BT) from goodreads:
In 1860, eleven-year-old Becky Thatcher is the new girl in town, determined to have adventures like she promised her brother Jon before he died. With her Mama frozen in grief and her Daddy busy as town judge, Becky spends much of her time on her own, getting into mischief. Before long, she joins the boys at school in a bet to steal from the Widow Douglas, and Becky convinces her new best friend, Amy Lawrence, to join her.

Becky decides that she and Amy need a bag of dirt from a bad man’s grave as protection for entering the Widow's house, so they sneak out to the cemetery at midnight, where they witness the thieving Pritchard brothers digging up a coffin. Determined to keep her family safe (and to avoid getting in trouble), Becky makes Amy promise not to tell anyone what they saw.

When their silence inadvertently results in the Widow Douglas being accused of the graverobbery, Becky concocts a plan to clear the Widow’s name. If she pulls it off, she might just get her Mama to notice her again and fulfill her promise to Jon in a most unexpected way . . . if that tattle-tale Tom Sawyer will quit following her around.
Things I Liked About TS:
It is nice to read classics now and again, because books are (mostly) not written like this anymore (ok, maybe just the books I usually read).  I love the language and the way stories are told, things are more implied it seems and there is more flowery description.  Tom was a fun character, I love his self-pitying feelings and his mischievous side and the way his mind worked.  There are a number of iconic scenes like the white washing of the fence and going to their own funerals that are just such great stories it's impossible not to smile about them. 

Things I Liked About BT:
I thought this was a really fun way to retell Tom Sawyer.  Lawson has kind of flipped the story on its head and imagined what it might be like to have Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) seeing real people and writing them into a story, but getting things all muddled up.  I love how Tom and Sid are pretty well switched up.  Even though this kind of bothered me at first, it was fairly humorous.  Also, I loved Becky.  She was a handful and her adventures, as a girl in that time, were so great.  She let us see just what girls could do and what they did even if they weren't supposed to.  And it was nice to see a friendship with Amy in the story too.  It was a clever plot and I liked it.

Things I Didn't Like About TS:
It did feel kind of disjointed, like the story was just a bunch of funny vignettes cobbled together with very little transition.  Don't get me wrong, I love the stories, but there wasn't much connecting them together except the same old Tom.  He doesn't change much over the course of the book either, just does a lot of funny kid things and stays pretty much the same.

Things I Didn't Like About BT:
At times it really stretched belief.  I mean, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is kind of a story that stretches believability, but Becky Thatcher made it even more of a stretch.  Her time in the cave with the bandits was just too much for me.  Also, I was a bit bothered at first, as I mentioned, with the mixing up of characters and story and details.  But, I ended up liking how Mark Twain would have seen and heard all of this and mixed it up for his own writing fun.  Great retelling!

Sometimes it reminded me (maybe because of the title) of The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

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