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Adapted Classics Blog

Hawthorne’s Illustrated Literature Not So Popular

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s illustrated classic literature is not so popular, but why not so much? Doesn’t he write perfectly poetical english prose? Why yes he does! And doesn’t he write scenes and characters that make surreal imagery flash to the mind and flow from the pen of master illustrator Marc Johnson-Pencook? Yes indeed—he does that too!  Middle-school readers should check out Hawthorne’s illustrated classic literature by viewing samples of his stories at Amazon and Apple Books, then plug him to middle school teachers who may have temporarily forgotten who Nathaniel Hawthorne is. He is truly great. And Marc Johnson-Pencook? He’s great[…] Read More

Mark Twain’s Carnival of Crime Exaggeration (Redux)

A carnival of Mark Twain exaggerations is on full display in one of our Adapted Classics stories, “The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut”. You can now find digital versions of this irreverent tale at both Apple Books and Amazon. If you are reluctant to spend a coupla bucks to test your tolerance or taste for Twain’s irreverence, both sites offer a preview of the book before you make an investment.  This story would be a useful tool for showing middle school students how exaggeration works as humor. It would also be useful in a lesson that contrasts[…] Read More

Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment Deserves it’s Classroom Reputation

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s’ Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment deserves it’s reputation as a good story for students to analyze in the classroom. Because I knew about it’s great reputation with secondary educators, I chose it to be the first book in our Adapted Classics collection. But I only partly chose it because its great reputation. It also suits my personal taste. And, most importantly, it perfectly fits all the criteria I set for selecting classic stories for adaptation. I include a story’s pictorial quality—how well it will carry illustrations—as a major criterion. And wow—does this Hawthorne story illustrate well!  Marc Johnson-Pencook, with great[…] Read More

Hop-Frog – Righteous Anger and Revenge

Middle school teachers can use Edgar Allan Poe’s Hop-Frog to explore and discuss the topics of righteous anger and revenge. Throw in bullying and it’s a trifecta! These topics can grab and hold the attention of middle school students as they develop the skill of searching for meaning in literature. Regular topics for discussion in a middle-school english classroom? Not likely. But worthy of discussion in these tumultuous times? Absolutely—or anytime. The Hop-Frog story introduces readers to a bully king and his bully counsellors. They had captured two dwarves, Hop-Frog and Trippetta, and forced them into service. The dwarves developed[…] Read More

How We Work Together – Illustrator and Adapter – Illustrated Literature

How we work together, Illustrator and adapter, on our Adapted Classics collection of illustrated literature, required an explanation. Deciding how to explain my role was bothering me as I prepared to make a presentation to a fourth grade class of students at the Community School of Excellence in St. Paul, Minnesota. I knew it wasn’t bothering Marc Johnson-Pencook. He could talk about drawing all day long. He could demonstrate his methods of composition using the tools of his trade and the skills he had developed to become one of the best pen and ink illustrators ever. And he could do[…] Read More

Edgar Allan Poe – A Fascinating, Talented Writer

Edgar Allan Poe was a fascinating, superbly talented writer who lived a troubled, unfortunate life. He was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. His father, an actor, abandoned his family when Poe was one year old, and his mother, an actress, died of tuberculosis when he was two. Brought up by foster parents who never adopted him, Poe did not fit in well at home. A gloomy person, Poe also did not fit in well at school, in the military, or within society at large. But he sure could write well.  At the age of eighteen he was a[…] Read More

‘Good’ Reviews are Hard to Get – You Can’t Buy One.

Sammy's Day at the Fair - Good reviews

‘Good’ reviews are critical to publishing success, but they are hard to get. You can’t buy one. You can, but don’t bother. Every high-volume book buyer knows about those phony, for-a-fee lures. And they avoid them like fish avoid rotten bait.  ‘Good’ reviews come in one size only. I discussed this in my last blog. I pointed out that selves (self-publishers) don’t get these reviews. But large publishing houses get them in bunches. That might give high-volume purchasers (libraries, bookstores, schools) pause to think about justice, but probably not. And probably not about honesty, either. I don’t doubt elite book[…] Read More

Waiting for Recognition – All We Do

Waiting for recognition is about all we do. Early on this year we went through the process of sending our newly published books (Hawthorne Illustrated and Sammy’s Day at the Fair) to eight pre-publication reviewers. Not to all pre-publication reviewers—there’s a few more. But we sent books to the ones almost every acquisition librarian (school and public) consults before shopping for new books to add to their collections. We got nothing back from those reviewers. Not a word. Not a wink.  But really, dopey. What did me expect? Distinguished book reviewers don’t review books published by selves! They virtually always[…] Read More

Why Adapt a Classic Story – A Fair Question

Why adapt a classic story? That’s a fair question. It deserves an answer. After all, classic stories have earned their timeless designation just as they stand. So why mess with them?  I have relatives and friends who wonder at my audacity or sanity for undertaking a venture like Adapted Classics.  I am more inclined to explain myself to those who question my sanity. Some ventures are undertaken because of stupid expectations for success. As for audacity, I deny I am audacious. I never believed we were improving the classic stories we adapted. I simply believed we were making them more[…] Read More

Picture Books are for Kids and Adults

Picture books are for kids, but many adults like them too. You can call these adults big kids, and you can call picture books illustrated literature. I suppose a special group of students at Iona College wouldn’t care one way or the other. These students belong to a student organization called Admirers of Illustrated Literature. I would like to get to know them.  The Iona College campus rests peacefully in New Rochelle, NY, about twenty miles north of hectic mid-Manhattan. Carl Reiner, creator, producer, writer, and actor on The Dick Van Dyke Show (with bunches of other credits, including son[…] Read More

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