The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

It took me long enough to read this, but very little surprised me. So much gets lost in the short-shelf-life of children's pop culture, but somehow Tom Sawyer remains a constant. Twain writes with thick nostalgia of a simpler time and of childhood. Of course,'Tom Sawyer' is a pale candle compared to 'Huckleberry Finn', but as a book for children it almost stands a fighting chance against the newcomers of the genre. Unlike many other books written over a hundred years destined for kid's hands it is never insipid and a reader unfamiliar with its imitators will enjoy the adventures and the child-logic of Tom and Huck.

I did say almost. I don't like the idea of limiting access to any books based on perceived appropriateness, but the chance of harm is real in this one. There are some deep-rooted racial pitfalls in this book, for instance, Huck's declaring he's never known a black person who wouldn't lie and, uh, the whole aura surrounding Injun Joe completely apart from the murdering. There's also the romancing of Becky Thatcher. Even if you change some of the wording there are problems with the text that will be a challenge to put in the right context for a younger reader. If a teacher or parent is up to that challenge, they can go right ahead, but the whitewash ain't gonna cover this fence.