Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cozy Classics: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Published: May 23rd, 2014
Cozy Classics: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
By: Jack Wang & Holman Wang
Simply Read Books
ISBN-13:  9781927018385

Give a kid a classic!  Cozy Classics is the popular board book series that presents well-loved stories to children ages 0 + through twelve child-friendly words and needle-felted illustrations.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is Mark Twain's timeless tale of childhood about an imaginative boy who's always getting into trouble, and is one of the world's most beloved classics.  Now you can share this classic with children of any age.


     So, I have read a few of these before, most notably Emma and Jane Eyre.  I didn't realize how hard this particular book would be to translate to this narrative style, than say, Emma happened to be!  But considering that unless you have the room to be wordy, Twain's story definitely makes NO real sense whatsoever!  Just like in their previous books, Jack and Holman Wang use felt puppets staged in different scenes to tell a story, using only twelve words to describe exactly what's happening.  Knowing the story previously, I expected it to make better use of the adventure storyline that monopolizes the last half of the book, but the way it was worked in was very jagged and really had no narrative flow.
     The first word used in this book is HIDE and the page shows Tom with his hand in a jam-pot, hiding behind a re-creation of the first page of the original book.  It definitely represents Tom's mischievious nature to a tee, and is a good example.  The next picture is of Tom whitewashing the fence, with the word PAINT.  That doesn't translate quite as well, considering all we see is Tom doing the work.  Unless you already knew, it doesn't in any way hint that he's going to cause the other children to fight over doing the work for him, by fooling them into thinking it's fun.  Next, they show Tom kissing Becky (seemingly for no reason, at school I think?), with the caption KISS.  I guess it's an easy way to introduce Becky.  It ties in with the fourth page, where Tom is trying to comfort Becky as she cries (because he kissed her?), with the word CRY.  Huck is introduced next playing with some toy swords with Tom (PLAY), which I guess is as good a way as any of introducing him I suppose.
     The storyline begins to get coherent next, with Tom and Huck outside at night in front of a fire (CAMP).  Next, there's a STORM and the two of them are caught in it.  Randomly they're on the street in front of a house, in nice weather, with Becky looking all lovestruck and it says HOME.  Then Becky and Tom are together again in front of a CAVE, then they're LOST in the cave with a candle and bats overhead, Tom is helping Becky climb OUT and then Tom & Huck are randomly back in the cave together with a pick-axe - and treasure (GOLD).  As a whole, the photographs/staging are all very creative and visually appealing.  But I do think that the treasure storyline wasn't really used to the best of it's abilities.  Also, out of everything else that happens in the book, Becky is what gets the main focus?  Talk about odd narrative decisions...but like I said, I can definitely see this being a difficult one to translate.  All in all, an interesting attempt and not the worst I'll ever read (especially for a board book based on a classic), but not the best either.  I'd recommend it if you want to compare and contrast, or want a cute book to look at with a child.

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

**I received this book from Simply Read Books, on NetGalley.  No favors or money were exchanged for this review.  This book was published May 23rd, 2014.**

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