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Adapted Classics Blog

middle school literature Archives | Adapted ClassicsBlog Posts

Mark Twain is Running for Governor

Mark Twain is Running for Governor. But that’s fake news. Or just plain fiction, to use a more accurate term. For among other things, Mark Twain wrote political satire. Our latest story celebrates this brand of Twain humor during our 2020 election season. Twain wrote Running for Governor for his monthly column in The Galaxy, a literary magazine. He portrayed his fictional candidacy for Governor to be hopeless, just as if he had actually campaigned for the position. He knew that both major party candidates were generating newspaper propaganda in the New York election of 1870. And he knew those lies would doom any honest, independent candidate to defeat. Fake[…] 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

Poe Illustrated Delayed Due to Pandemic

We have postponed the release of Poe Illustrated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s doubtful anyone would be surprised. Ain’t about everything fun, good, and worthwhile delayed, postponed, or canceled? To say these are terrible times says about absolutely nothing. We are unhappy for everybody, and especially sad for those most effected, directly and indirectly . As a micro-publisher, we operate ArtWrite Productions/Adapted Classics out of a home. We do virtually everything remotely, or at least we could. So why not proceed with the publication? Well, classrooms in elementary and middle schools, their libraries, and public libraries, comprise our primary[…] 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

Illustrated Classic Literature, Without Hue, is Natural

Illustrated classic literature, without hue, is natural. Yet I have heard fifty complaints about the hue-less illustrations in our adapted classics collection of illustrated literature for middle school readers. Modern youth demand colorful images, so why do we insist on peddling books with black and white, i.e.; pen and ink illustrations? Color is nice. We live in a world of color, and I’m glad that we do. But when we first set out to adapt classic stories for illustration, we immediately decided to illustrate the stories without color. That’s because, had these stories been illustrated when written many decades ago,[…] 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

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