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Adapted Classics Blog

illustrated literature Archives | Adapted ClassicsBlog Posts

A Free-for-All Election, no-holds-barred

A free-for-all election, no-holds-barred, can be fun. But not unless someone like Mark Twain’s Running for Governor. Pretend with him that he is, and just forget the obstacles he encounters are so much like 2020 reality. Get past that kind of comparing and you’ve got it made. You can enjoy Twain’s humorous political tale, and immensely! Mark Twain’s Running for Governor will eventually be collected with two more Twain stories in an Adapted Classics book entitled Twain Illustrated. But we could not resist sharing a free, special edition of this story during the 2020 election season. Twain hilariously describes his run for[…] Read More

Feathertop-Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Last Story

Feathertop was the last story Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote. Most literary critics do not rank it with his best. They usually find the story too far-fetched and its moral message too obvious. Both these criticisms may be valid, but it’ s also very difficult to please literary critics. Did they overlook Feathertop’s entertainment value? Mother Rigby certainly makes her disdain for human phoniness very obvious, but she does so with humorous digs and disses that have held up very well over time.  And when Feathertop gains self-awareness, when he realizes he is but a scarecrow stuffed with straw, his surrender to[…] Read More

The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether

The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether shows Edgar Allan Poe’s dark sense of humor to great effect. We will include it in Poe Illustrated, our collection of three illustrated stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Poe wrote The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether in 1845.  About 50 years prior to that, French doctor Phillipe Penel had devised a gentle system for treating mentally ill patients. Poe created a similar ’soothing’ system for treating patients in the House of Health, the asylum setting for this humorous, yet controversial story. Despite Penel’s well-publicized innovation, harsh treatment of mental patients persisted in asylums world-wide. Maybe Poe was trying to promote Penel’s gentle methods when he wrote his story. Or perhaps not. To this day scholars who analyze literature or try to[…] Read More

Three Stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Three Stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne is the subtitle for Hawthorne Illustrated. However, no real need for a subtitle since the main title, Hawthorne Illustrated, unlike our upcoming Poe Illustrated, stands unique in the book publishing world. And to demonstrate that, if you were to search the Internet for Hawthorne illustrated, you will find our book prominently displayed at the top of the first page of results for that inquiry. Hooray, as far as that goes. Although Hawthorne Illustrated is free from titling competition, we oddly consider this unfortunate. Some publisher should have created an Illustrated Hawthorne book long before ours.[…] Read More

Coming Attraction – Edgar Allan Poe Illustrated Stories

Coming soon, more Edgar Allan Poe illustrated classic stories, attraction guaranteed. That’s because Poe is who he is – master of the macabre, inventor of the detective story, and a sower of sly humor throughout all of his works.  Transcending obsolescence, Poe’s prose skillfully transports delightful sound and vivid sights into the ears and minds of modern readers, from middle school on. And his stories still greatly entertain. Normal middle school readers everywhere enjoy Poe’s abnormal stories for reasons that paranormal psychologists might understand even if you and I don’t. And that’s okay with me – I don’t mind. Nor,[…] Read More

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

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