REIMAGINED CLASSIC STORIES

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The first-person opening of Thou Art the Man

by Jerome Tiller
The first person opening of Edgar Allan Poe’s Thou Art the Man had to go, so I went ahead and cut it. I promised an excuse for this in our last blog. Here you have it: I did it for our audience. I adapt classic short stories, primarily for modern, middle school readers, by adding illustrations. But I also slightly modify the narratives. I do both for the sake of the audience, especially for the youngest segment of our readers. And I do some of it because both they and I are modern.
 

Hawthorne Illustrated

by Jerome Tiller
We attached the cover for Hawthorne Illustrated below. We put the book up for sale on August 31, 2018. Four months before we published it, we sent Advance Review Copies to eight VIP book reviewers nationwide. Unfortunately, not one of them decided to review it. That means the book will be very hard to sell to schools and libraries.

There are only a few reviewers whose opinions wholesale book purchasers rely upon, and those few reviewers focus on books from a few, large, corporate publishing houses. Small publishers call it the tyranny of the few!

Nevertheless, Adapted Classics always give it a try. Our attitude is - hey, we publish renowned English-language authors. Why wouldn’t a reviewer want to plug these guys...

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote lots of good stories

by Jerome Tiller
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote lots of good stories. Most readers know Hawthorne from the novels they were assigned to read in high school. Usually teachers would assign The Scarlet Letter or the House of Seven of Seven Gables. Maybe The Marble Faun, but probably not. My nephews told me they read Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, one of Hawthorne’s short stories, in freshman English. That surprised me. The only short story I was assigned to read in high school was The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. That sure was a good story. Creepy. Hawthorne wrote creepy stories, too.

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote lots of good tales, and quite a few of them were creepy, no doubt. But as with Jackson’s The Lottery, he composed them in...

Edgar Allan Poe was not sarcastic

by Jerome Tiller
Edgar Allan Poe was not sarcastic. In my last blog, posted April 10, I said Edgar Allan Poe was sarcastic. And I claimed Poe’s sarcasm was funny. I stand corrected. Going by the two dictionaries I use for reference, sarcasm is not funny. Sarcasm intends to hurt with mocking ridicule. Both dictionaries agree on that.

So that makes me dead wrong for saying Poe use sarcastic humor in the example I chose to demonstrate his humor. Either Poe wasn’t being sarcastic, or the excerpt I used wasn’t humorous. Intent to hurt cannot be funny, even when someone’s ego deserves to be chopped down to size. I don’t think I can have it both ways. The dictionaries have corrected me. A little deeper Still,...

Edgar Allan Poe was not ...

by Jerome Tiller
Edgar Allan Poe was not a humorist. Edgar Allan Poe was not a comic genius. Poe did not want his readers to die laughing—or leastwise probably not; he was, after all, a poor, starving artist and would need them to continue purchasing the magazines that published his stories. But Edgar Allan Poe was funny. He had a sense of humor and knew how to use it. Poe, being Poe, slyly inserted his humor into the framework of detective stories and macabre tales.

Poe’s humor was almost entirely sarcastic. Sarcasm falls within the form of humor called wit, which is defined as mental trickery. I addressed the subject of wit in a previous blog about Mark Twain’s humor.

But why try to thoroughly describe Poe’s...

Mark Twain Made Mischievous Fun

by Jerome Tiller
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 that produce surprise. But physical pranks also play out to the detriment of a victim. A victim hardly ever immediately sees...

The Humor of Twain, Poe, and Hawthorne

by Jerome Tiller
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 and relief to our culture. Thank goodness for them.

Now, every American either knows or will discover that Mark Twain was...

Edgar Allan Poe Humor for Middle School

by Jerome Tiller
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 would be fun for students and teachers alike.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Thou Art the Man, a detective story on the surface, features...

Hawthorne Stories for Middle School

by Jerome Tiller
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 are talking about. I suppose underground spring would be a more accurate term than well when describing the central feature of...

Fans of Adam Redux - Reconsidering Eve

by Jerome Tiller
Fans of Adam might want us to reconsider Eve and apologize for our insults and the violent trip we suggested they take over a waterfall. In anticipation of their desires, we will.

Apologies first. Eve was concerned for reckless Adam’s safety. She pressured him to stop going over a waterfall. Like Eve, we are non-violent. So we retract our suggestion that Fans of Adam go over a waterfall in a barrel like Adam did. As far as we are concerned, jumping in a lake is usually safe, so we will stick with that suggestion. Go jump in the lake.

As for our insult, were you to object, you would probably be referring to the ‘big baby’ charge we leveled adaptedclassics.comst you. But if...

Midwest Book Review Recommends "Eve and Adam”

by Jerome Tiller
Midwest Book Review recommends “Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Eve and Adam”. You will find their review posted on the Literary Shelf in the October 2017 edition of their e-magazine. It is the first comment we have heard about our newly published book for middle-school readers. Thankfully, it’s a positive one. And we are thankful exactly six times over that Midwest Book Review likes all the books in our Adapted Classics collection of timeless stories for middle-school readers.

That someone finally commented on the book pleases us. However, the reviewer disappointed us by quoting Adam's downer observation about death as the example of Twain’s funny, positive story. The short excerpt the reviewer used does not reflect the tone of the story at...

Fans of Adam - Mark Twain's The Diaries of Eve and Adam

by Jerome Tiller
Fans of Adam might dislike ArtWrite Productions, the publisher of the Adapted Classics book, “Mark Twain’s the Diaries of Eve and Adam”. The reason? The publisher decided to place Eve’s name before Adam’s in the title of the book. This upsets tradition, fans of Adam might say, and you do not upset tradition to appease women or to appeal to them for financial gain (women do buy more books than men, and men almost never buy books for their children).

Well, fans of Adam, do you want to know what lake you can jump into? How about the first lake you come upon? But do not drown, you big babies. Your womenfolk might miss you if they are anything like Eve,...

Nathaniel Hawthorne - A Serious Man and a Funny Guy

by Jerome Tiller
Did you know Nathaniel Hawthorne was both a serious man and a funny guy. Many people who think of him as nothing but a great moralist should read “Mr. Higginbotham’s Catastrophe”. Hawthorne told it in a light, humorous vein, and he didn’t use it to deliver a great moral message. But as for serious—well, this story is…seriously funny. And seriously sweet!

Unusual though this story is coming from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, a contemporary of Hawthorne and a renowned literary critic, praised “Mr. Higginbotham’s Catastrophe”. He described it as “vividly original and dexterously managed”. Other critics have favorably compared Dominicus Pike, the story’s main character, to Ichabod Crane, the main character in Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Both...

Mark Twain’s Eve and Adam - Gender Stereotypes?

by Jerome Tiller
When Mark Twain developed the characters Eve and Adam in his creation stories, did he rely upon and perpetuate gender stereotypes? Although most of the people who have read and reviewed “Eve’s Diary” like the story, some readers found fault with Twain’s portrayal of Eve, especially after she began taking an interest in Adam. Twain took on a daunting task when he decided to fictionalize the story of creation. He must have known his characterizations of Eve and Adam, the very first human creatures, would be seen. They would be seen as archetypes for all succeeding generations of both genders of humans. Confidants of Twain knew he wrote “Eve’s Diary” as a eulogy to his beloved wife Olivia; she died in 1904,...

Poe's Hop-Frog - Middle-School Lesson Plan

by Jerome Tiller
I imagine Edgar Allan Poe’s Hop-Frog would fit well in some middle-school lesson plan. I can only imagine, however. Today’s lesson plans are probably tied closely to education standards and achievement tests. I am not a teacher. I do not know enough about the teaching vocation to speak authoritatively about standards or testing. Still, if teachers have the flexibility to use literature to stir classroom discussion, 'Poe’s Hop-Frog' has much going for it as a vehicle for that.

I discussed objections to exposing middle-grade readers to 'Hop-Frog' in two earlier posts. To reiterate, just because Hop-Frog, a very sympathetic character, violently revenges maltreatment by his tormentors does not mean that violent revenge is justifiable. Whether revenge can ever be justified, however,...

Adapting Eve & Adam - Intentions and Principles

by Jerome Tiller
Issues regarding intentions and principles loomed while adapting “Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Eve and Adam”. I was concerned that Eve’s character could change if I added new material to combine two separate stories by Twain. But I gave myself leeway to add material because I had no intention to change Eve’s character. Heck, I would not intentionally change any aspect of any character created by Mark Twain. My sole motive in adding new material was to keep dialogue going between Eve and Adam from beginning to end. I tried to keep Eve’s character in line with Twain’s Eve by closely considering what Eve had to say in her diary before the fall, along with the few things she had to say...

Mark Twain’s Goal - Bringing Eve & Adam Together

by Jerome Tiller
Mark Twain wanted to bring Eve and Adam together, but his goal went unrealized until after his death. Twain wanted to unite his "creation stories" so Eve and Adam’s different perspectives on creation would stand in high contrast. As Twain said, “They score points adaptedclassics.comst each other — so, if not bound together, some of the points would not be perceived.” In 1931, 21 years after Mark Twain died, Harper finally brought the stories together by publishing a book titled “The Private Life of Adam and Eve”.

Mark Twain was a writer at ease with organizing and presenting his ideas. He rarely struggled to bundle into finished form all that his fertile mind imagined. But combining Eve and Adam’s different perspectives on...

Adapted Classics "Hop-Frog" rated ideal format for Middle School Readers

by Jerome Tiller
Midwest Book Review (MBR) thinks we adapted “Edgar Allan Poe’s Hop-Frog” into an ideal format for middle school readers. In their opinion. the lightly modified text and the striking black-and-white illustrations are two reasons why "Hop-Frog" is an excellent tool to introduce middle-school readers to the amazing world of classic literature.

We greatly value their opinion. Midwest Book Review is an on-line book review magazine well-respected in the book trade. They selectively review books by small publishers and independent authors. Small players in the book trade, such as ourselves, seek reviews from MBR since almost all review journals will only review books from large publishers.

MBR complimented our entire Adapted Classics collection. They also saluted our other adapted Poe classic, “Thou Art the...

Revealing Illustrated Literature - Mark Twain's The Diaries of Eve and Adam

by Jerome Tiller
Eve and Apple ArtWrite Productions will publish "Mark Twain's The Diaries of Eve and Adam" on June 30, 2017. It will be the sixth book in our Adapted Classics collection of illustrated literature. We are happy to announce this will be the first time we publish an Adapted Classics book in both hardcover and softcover. Near the end of his life, Mark Twain wrote a series of six stories commonly known as the ‘Adamic Diaries’. Four of the stories poke fun at Christianity and are dark in tone. These stories were not published until after Twain died in 1910. Two of the six stories in the series were published as illustrated books while Twain lived—Extracts from Adam’s Diary...

Is Edgar Allan Poe's Hop-Frog safe for kids?

by Jerome Tiller
Is Hop-Frog by Edgar Allan Poe safe for kids? One of the factors that persuaded us to include Hop-Frog in the Adapted Classics collection was its inclusion in “Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination”. George G Harrap & Co. Ltd  published that volume of illustrated, unadapted Poe stories in 1935. The Harrap Company specialized in publishing educational books, but they also published many illustrated books for children.

So we don't think we presumed too much when we decided to publish our version of Edgar Allan Poe's Hop-Frog. After all, a noted major publisher found Hop-Frog and other Poe tales safe for children in 1935. That would mean Poe's tales must also be safe reading for middle-school readers in the modern age.

Subsequent...