I dearly love Mark Twain. I read Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn last year (both for the first time) and thoroughly enjoyed them (Tom Sawyer was my favorite of the two). And the only thing greater than finding an author you love… is finding an author you love who wrote more books than you first thought!
So, this book I picked up for 25 cents at a used bookstore. (I also have A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Tom Sawyer Abroad waiting in the wings.) A further virtue of this book: it’s a mystery. I grew up reading the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew and some others… then discovered the magic that is Agatha Christie just last year. So, I’m a fan.
This story, narrated by Huck, is the story of how he and Tom traveled to Arkansaw (yes, he does spell it that way), met a thief, and solved a murder mystery.
Anyway, here are some specific things I loved about this book:
- Twain’s authentic word choice – like Tom’s version of “yeah right”: “The mischief he don’t!”
- Tom’s mystery-loving nature, and Huck’s description of it: “It was always nuts for Tom Sawyer – a mystery was. If you’d lay out a mystery and a pie before me and him, you wouldn’t have to say take your choice; it was a thing that would regulate itself. Because in my nature I have always run to pie, whilst in his nature he has always run to mystery. People are made different. And it is the best way.”
- Another choice morsel of description: “The moon came a-swelling up out of the ground, now, powerful big and round and bright, behind a comb of trees, like a face looking through prison bars, and the black shadders [shadows] and white places begun to creep around, and it was miserable quiet and still and night-breezy and graveyardy and scary.”
(Sidenote: This sentence is an English teacher’s dream: metaphor, simile, imagery, personification, diction…)
- Huck’s childish exaggeration: “And then all of a sudden I catched my breath and grabbed Tom’s arm, and all my livers and lungs and things fell down into my legs.”
- In describing the murder trial, Huck calls the prosecution the “prostitution.” That mix-up is quite a laugh!
Also, even for as many mysteries as I’ve read, the solution I came up with wasn’t the right one. To be fair, mine worked with all the evidence there was… Oh well.
Anyone else? Have you read this? Did you like it? Did you come up with the right answer?