The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain, Robert Ingpen

What is there to say about Tom Sawyer that hasn't already been said?  Nothing, that's what.  So, I'll just say this was an absolute delight to read with Izzy and add a few of my own general thoughts and feelings. 


Twain was a remarkably gifted writer - not only is the prose just lovely, but often truly laugh-out-loud hysterical.  I love the narrator's mock formal tone, but especially when juxtaposed with the country folk dialogue - of which Twain was the ultimate master. There was only one chapter which felt a bit wasted - the one in which the narrator drones on about the schoolgirls' essays. It just felt a bit tired and sexist and the whole episode could be skipped entirely without missing a beat.  Even the trick the kids play on the schoolmaster was a bit forced.  The chapter in the graveyard and the one in the cave, however, are among the most exciting, perfect things I've read in all my life. 


Sometimes I wish Becky had a bit more oomph, but then again she is up for most of Tom's harebrained schemes and can be a bit naughty herself.  And then there is the issue of Injun Joe.  I took great pains to explain to Izzy that the racial attitudes expressed here were meant to be realistic of the era and not necessarily representative of the author's own beliefs - thinking of course of the casual and persistent use of the word nigger.  I am not sure that's entirely true when it comes to Twain and Native Americans, however.  He really seemed to be saying that 'Indian blood' contributes to a violent temperament.  Although, Izzy interpreted Joe's badness as coming from years of alienation and cruelty from the townsfolk. (It's honestly one of my favorite things about her that she always somehow finds a way to identify with the antagonist.)


It's not a perfect book.  There are racist/sexist/dated elements and the narrator does ramble a bit, but ultimately it's a timeless, funny story that can be enjoyed on so many levels.