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 are talking about. I suppose underground spring would be a more accurate term than well when describing the central feature of the story. The story focuses on a sample from the Fountain of Youth. It was our first illustrated adaptation of a Hawthorne story. We published it in 2014. It includes illustrations that made Lucas Lawrence, a young book reviewer in Massachusetts, laugh out loud.
Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment basically contains serious thematic material, but in many spots throughout the story Hawthorne delivered it with tongue in cheek. Johnson-Pencook took liberal advantage of Hawthorne’s underlying sarcasm in this story, so it’s easy to see why his illustrations would make readers laugh. As always, Marc did a terrific job. I wish I would have entered his illustrations for this story in one or another contest back when it was published. He is as excellent a pen and ink illustrator as any around today, and he compares well with any such illustrators from any age.
More Hawthorne Stories for Middle School
Mr. Higginbotham’s Catastrophe holds down the second spot in the volume of three. Hawthorne departed from his specialty in this story; he normally told tales with strong moral messages. But not this one. All Mr. Higginbotham’s Catastrophe does is exude charm and provoke chuckles. But that happens to be plenty more than enough. VOYA Magazine, a highly respected journal devoted to reviewing books for middle school and young adult readers, rated it Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers in 2016.
As much as we like these stories, we completed the work on them awhile back. We are not going to modify them before we combine them with a third Hawthorne story in the coming volume. So most of the pleasant work ahead I mentioned earlier involves the third story. We will not publish it separately, at least not until after it’s combined with ‘Heidegger’ and ‘Higginbotham’. The story, “Feathertop”, is a satire with sharp bite. Mother Rigby, one of two main characters, keeps the story lively throughout with a steady stream of witty zingers pointed at society. Consequently, the story is both funny and thought-provoking. We are having a good time adapting and illustrating it. We like it a lot.
Besides “Hawthorne Illustrated”, I finished working on another publishing project. It has nothing to with adapted classics, at least not in the literal meaning of that phrase. I revised and updated the second edition of Sammy’s Day at the Fair:“ The Digestive System, featuring Gut Feelings and Reactions . ArtWrite Productions, the parent company for Adapted Classics, published it August 1, 2018. In a future post I’ll tell you more about the book. One thing about it does suggest classic. Maybe you will want to know what that is.