The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
© 1876 Mark Twain
There is truly no better time to revisit The Adventures of Tom Sawyerthan the summer, with its long, languid days bringing back memories of childhood liberty from school, and the mischievous episodes used to fill them. Tom Sawyer is the history of a boy, told by an aging boy – Mark Twain – whose own fond recollections of boyhood are obvious. Tom is the quintessential boy; wild, clever, with a head full of adventures. The importance of memorizing Bible verses may be lost on him, as is the value of whitewashing a fence – but he is not dull or lazy. How could he be when he spends days hard at work digging for treasure, or playing out The Tale of Robin Hood with his friends, delivering dialogue word-for-word from the book by memory? Tom may struggle at being civilized, but he has his own values to live up to. For all his youthful mischief, Tom is hard at play, practicing to be a man; he yearns to be the adventurous pirate, the gallant knight winning the favor of his lady love. In Tom’s case, such practice is fruitful, for his pursuit of pretend adventure will lead him headlong into actual danger when he and his friend Huck witness a murder. In the months that follow, Tom must live up to the nobility he practiced to truly rescue damsels in distress, to truly defeat a dastardly villain, and win the prize for all his derring-do – genuine pirate treasure! Could there be a better book for boys?
This is certainly a great book for boys and I still remember enjoying it when I was one.
I would suggest that a short list of great boys' books would have to also include Treasure Island and Kidnapped by Stevenson and The Jungle Books by Kipling.
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