Mark Twain's 1876 classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer tells the story of a young boy growing up in St. Petersburg, Missouri—a fictional town that parallels the author's childhood home of Hannibal, Missouri. In the novel's preface, Twain tells the reader that many of the events that transpire "really occurred" and that Tom Sawyer is a composite character developed from the personalities of three boys he knew in his youth.
Like much of Twain's earlier work, Tom Sawyer contains elements of satire, but ultimately seeks to portray Tom's idyllic, carefree childhood.
When teaching this novel, be sure to provide students with an introduction to the life and work of Mark Twain. Understanding the author's past will help readers understand this particular novel more clearly
It is also important to promote classroom discussion about St. Petersburg's xenophobic attitude towards "Injun Joe"—a half-Native American, half-white man who commits murder. Spend times analyzing Twain's use of this character and his implications about race and "otherness" in society.
Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer tells the story of Tom's childhood escapades in and around St. Petersburg, Missouri. He and his mischievous friends, Huckleberry Finn and Joe Harper, seek out thrills that exhibit the idyllic nature of youth.
This novel includes some profanity, including racial slurs.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has a long adaptation history, as early as the silent film Tom Sawyer (1917), and as recent as Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn (2014). Certain adaptations have received largely negative reviews, including Tom and Huck (1995) and Tom Sawyer (2000). However, the early 1938 film The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, though criticized for excessive slapstick, was praised for its dialogue, casting, pace, suspense, and design. It went on to be nominated for Best Art Direction at the Academy Awards. Similarly, the musical Tom Sawyer (1973) was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Song Score and Adaptation.
Available from Prestwick House:
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer