Adapted Classics Blog

Twain’s Carnival of Exaggerations

Witty Mark Twain’s trickery usually got people to snicker or chuckle, but Twain’s carnival of exaggerations more often made them laugh. Twain used and blended many comic forms, including witty jokes, puns, ludicrous impressions, irony, sarcasm, satire, and understatement. But very often he relied upon exaggeration to great comic effect. Like many humorists before him, Twain learned too much of anything, taken playfully, makes people laugh. But as mentioned in a previous post, a playful audience for humor is essential. For instance, if sensitive to the violent use of firearms, as many of us are after yet another massacre at[…] Read More

Promoting Illustrated Literature for Middle School

One might think you would not encounter opposition promoting illustrated literature for middle school students. Who don’t like pictures? Yet I know there are some educators who believe unadorned print on the page is the best way to hasten the progress of adolescents into the full responsibilities of adulthood. Well, maybe. But I’d keep anybody longer in the drudgery of adolescence if it were up to me. Those were some pretty good times for the most part, looking back. Seriously, this debate about the content of books for kids who are leaving childhood highlights an anti-picture attitude that some folks[…] Read More

Mark Twain Made Mischievous Fun

Mark Twain made mischievous fun as a boy, and he never stopped making such fun. The practical jokes he played in his youth laid a foundation for some of the humor that would make him famous. According to some, all witty geniuses, Mark Twain included, developed their sense of humor after first playing pranks as children. I’m not sure about the truth of this. I would hope it were not so. Still, if it were to be true, anticipating this end result would probably provide some comfort to whomever has to raise a child prankster. In essence, pranks embody tricks[…] Read More

The Humor of Twain, Poe, and Hawthorne

Comparing the humor of Twain, Poe, and Hawthorne would be an excellent way to introduce middle school students to classic literature. It’s hard to imagine a topic that would be more interesting to middle school students than humor. You just know a classroom discussion about humor would be fun for teacher and students. And it would be educational too, of course. Humor takes many forms that are worth knowing about. And Twain, Poe, and Hawthorne are worth knowing about too, and the sooner the better. All of them used humor to make or enhance classic stories that have added texture[…] Read More

Edgar Allan Poe Humor for Middle School

Whether Edgar Allan Poe’s humor will suit middle school students is a matter for middle school students to decide. I would encourage middle school students to search for the humor in Poe’s stories. I think they will like his humor when they find it. If middle school students were to analyze almost any Poe story, even his tales of terror, they would likely find some humor either simmering along the surface or inserted between the lines. A Poe humor search would make a good middle school homework assignment. Then a great classroom discussion likely would follow. I’d bet that discussion[…] Read More

Literature for Middle School Students

Whether classic literature belongs in middle school classrooms is an open question. Some teachers probably believe the best way to encourage middle school students to read is to assign them books they want to read, with a few obvious exceptions. If they want to read Captain Underpants, give it to them. If they want to read Harry Potter, give it to them (and by all means, give them all and every one of those fine books you can). But classic literature? Middle-school students don’t want to read stories about mostly adult characters living in the distant past. Why force the[…] Read More

Hawthorne Stories for Middle School

Bundling illustrated Hawthorne stories for middle school made for pleasant work. That’s because Nathaniel Hawthorne tells great stories that illustrate well. Quite frankly, we believe kids and their parents should read them. We think who wouldn’t like Hawthorne stories, especially when masterfully illustrated by Marc Johnson-Pencook? So, we went and did it. We published Hawthorne Illustrated, a volume of three Hawthorne on August 31, 2018. Middle school readers will happily soak up these stories if only parents would point, maybe nudge them, to drink from the great classics well. Speaking of wells, Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment leads the combined three stories we[…] Read More

Illustrated Books Cover Middle-School Readers

Publishing experts maintain that covers sell books, including covers that sell illustrated books, but that wouldn’t matter to middle-school readers. They have no money to cover the cost of books. But even if they had money, would they go and spend it on a book anyway? So what does designed-to-sell-sell-sell book covers mean to them-them-them? If parents were to bring home a book they bought for their middle-school reader after they went and spent their money on the book because the outside cover sold them on the inside content, lets hope their middle-school reader also likes the cover, and then[…] Read More

Eve and Adam Have Nothin’ to Offer

When it comes to female objectification, Eve and Adam have nothin’ to offer those who want to know why males objectify females. Mark Twain didn’t directly delve into that topic when he wrote his creation stories. But he did recreate the first heterosexual couple, and he did exaggerate certain gender-specific tendencies in each character. Readers in his day would have recognized these masculine and feminine tendencies as legitimate. After all, Mark Twain was anything but stupid. He built his humor on the bedrock of exaggeration and understatement. And you know he understood how to use those comic devices! He knew[…] Read More

News – Eve & Adam Free for Nothin’

My warehouse has been shipping out copies of “Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Eve & Adam“ free for nothin’, but  does that make the news? No – not exactly. Not unless you consider this blog ‘news’. News or not, my warehouse certainly does ship out free for nothin’ new books that we donate to literacy organizations like Reader to Reader and Kids Need to Read. In the past few weeks, 60 library-bound copies of “Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Eve & Adam” went out to each of these two organizations. Both of them provide new and gently-used books to under-resourced public[…] Read More

«