Tom Sawyer

by Mark Twain

Other authorsNorman Rockwell (Illustrator), John T. Winterich (Introduction)
Hardcover, 1964

Status

Available

Publication

Easton Press, (1964), 128 pages

Description

The adventures of a boy growing up in the nineteenth century in a Mississippi River town, as he plays hookey on an island, witnesses a crime, hunts for pirates' treasure, and becomes lost in a cave.

User reviews

LibraryThing member nmhale
I finished my second book in my ongoing mission to read classic literature out loud to my daughter. We started with Winnie the Pooh, and then I settled on Tom Sawyer, since I had recently read Huckleberry Finn for myself; however I think that Milne's series is better for her at this age. I enjoyed reading the story, at least, even if she mostly fell asleep to the monotonous rhythm of my voice.

I've read Twain's sequel (of sorts) to this story three times, but never this one. It was an oversight I intended to correct some day, and since this book is considered classic children's literature, and less heavy than Huckleberry, I decided to complete two goals at once and read it to my daughter. The story covers a period in young Tom Sawyer's life, as he hunts for buried treasure (repeatedly), plays pirates or maybe thieves with his friends, runs away, falls in love, and generally behaves like a mischevious scamp of a boy. Most of us know many bits and pieces of this book, as it has become a part of our literary heritage (who hasn't heard of Tom Sawyer's white fence episode), so I will keep my comments to opinions on the story instead of a lengthy recounting of plot.

I've always admired Twain's wit, and while Tom Sawyer does not fully demonstrate his skills as a writer, it does bear his characteristic droll humor and cynicism. I think of the passage where he recounts the sentimental school recitations, or his observations of the town's behavior at church. Tom is the perfect vehicle for Twain's tongue-in-cheek observations; a young boy who revolts against social mores because they hamper his freedom. There is much I like about Tom. He is imaginative and clever, he has a sense of honor, like when he takes a beating for Becky, and has deep love for his family despite all of his tricks and manipulations, as witnessed when he sneaks back home to see Aunt Polly after he has run away. I particularly like his devtion to popular romantic literature, and how he twists things around in his naivete. Then again, some of Tom's personality grates on me. He is an arrogant little boy, and like most children his age, can be heartless. He thoughtlessly breaks the heart of the girl he had wooed before Becky came along, and he is merciless to Sid (who, to be fair, can be a little rat). Perhaps Tom's biggest mark against him, though, is that he is no Huckleberry. Even in this novel, which is centered on Tom, I found Huck the more compelling of the two.

Still, Tom is a rogue, and I had a good time reading his adventures. I enjoyed the plot, which was mostly composed of mini episodes in Tom's life, and a longer thread involving Indian Joe and treasure in general. I admire how Twain is nostalgically recreating a past and critiquing it at the same time. Just because he loves aspects of his home does not blind him to its faults; on the contrary, he mines those areas for all their dramatic potential. All in all, this story lacks the depth that Twain is capable of, but is a fun story that is easy to read. I was glad to finally have read this mainstay in our country's literature.
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LibraryThing member brittanybear79
Tom Sawyer was a little boy who was very mischievous. He went to live with his aunt. He didnt always follow the rules. He was forced to white wash the fence as punishment for some of the bad things he did. He tricked a lot of people into do stuff for him that he didnt want to do. He an Huck Finn went on a lot of adventures. Once Huck fell through the roof of the church and he faked his death. Then Becki found him and she was so mad when she found of that Huck was faking it the whole time. This book is known by a lot of people but most of them dont read it. They just know the main parts. i encourage people to read this. it is a fun read.… (more)
LibraryThing member theokester
The first and only time I previously read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was back in middle-school or late elementary school. Since then I've read a lot of Mark Twain's short stories and a few of his novels. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of my favorite books and I've read it a pile of times but until now I'd never revisited Tom Sawyer.

One of the things I love about Twain's writing is just how real and honest everything feels. Very quickly I felt myself pulled into the world of St. Peterburg. I absolutely love the flow and tone of the language. It's just so fluid and friendly. I love Twain's narrative style as he makes commentary on situations or behaviors. I can almost hear his snarky voice as he satirizes the sanctimonious behavior of some of the adults as set against the devil-may-care (yet very superstitious) attitudes of the children.

I vaguely remembered bits of the larger plot of the story but as I was reading I was struck by how much this book is a compilation of shorter stories instead of one single big plot piece. Admittedly there is the overall thread of Tom and Huck and their adventures with Injun Joe, but that particular story thread often goes many chapters completely forgotten, much in the way a child will forget some of their worries and cares as soon as the next big adventure comes along.

This book is definitely lighter in tone than Huckleberry Finn. It's not addressing heavy topics like slavery. But it still has plenty of weighty segments alongside the frivolous fun. There are plenty of subtle morality lessons as well as very dramatic scenes. I really enjoyed the tension as Tom and Becky sat in the dark cave watching their candle go out or the suspense as Tom and Huck sat upstairs in the haunted house waiting for Injun Joe to come up the stairs and find them hiding there. These segments were a fun balance to the light hearted adventures of boys playing pirates or whitewashing the fence.

While not as outrageous as Huckleberry Finn, there are segments in this book that may be potentially offensive or off-putting to some readers. The boys do observe a grizzly murder, though it isn't described in ghastly turns. There is also a lot of talk about superstition and witchcraft and sneaking out in the middle of the night for special ceremonies for luck or play. Beyond these elements (which are quaintly fun and characteristic of the world at that time and place), the boys also run away from home and spend days cussing and smoking and when they do return home they only get mild chastisement. Tom comments how he's going to impress the other boys by pulling out his pipe and smoking around them. While the behavior doesn't get much more applause than this (and it actually makes him very sick the first time he smokes), it doesn't get particularly villainized either, which could certainly be a cause for shock in some readers. I think as long as the reader understands the context, it shouldn't be a problem. And if a parent or educator is giving this book to a young child to read, it could be a good teaching point.

Being a fan of Mark Twain, I certainly have some bias, but I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. I plan on pushing it on my unsuspecting children and hope they enjoy it as much as I do. It's a true pleasure to go romping around with Tom Sawyer and his friends as they get up to adventures and into and out of trouble. If you've read it before, pick it up again and find old friends. And if you've never read it, you should definitely give it a read. It's tons of fun and definitely stands up to the test of time. As a note, there are a lot of Abridged versions out there (presumably to remove some of the potentially offensive segments). Do yourself a favor and read the unabridged version. You don't want to miss any of the fun.

*****
5 out of 5 stars
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LibraryThing member lgaray
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Mark Twain did an excellent job at creating this novel. This book was different compared to books I normally read; instead of one continuous story it was several short stories or experiences compiled together.
This novel is about a young adventurous boy named Tom Sawyer. He lives with his aunt in St. Petersburg, Missouri. Tom starts off the novel as somewhat of a mischievous boy and he always envied a young boy named Huckleberry Finn. As shown throughout the book, this is a main theme in the book - Social and Moral maturity. When I was reading I definitely noticed Sawyer becoming a more mature character. Tom is jealous of Huck Finn’s leisurely lifestyle; he had all the freedom he could ever want. Huck Finn only had this lazy lifestyle because his dad was the town drunk, therefore never being home to fulfill the father figure. As the novel continues and Tom continues to mature and found that he had new feelings toward a girl named Becky, they later become friends.
Tom and Huck go on several adventures, treasure hunts, and trips into the woods. They then go on an adventure to Jackson’s Island with Tom’s friend Joe Harper, in hopes to become pirates and search for Injun Joe’s secret treasure. As they were on this hunt, they had to be cautious because they thought that Injun Joe was after them.
On one of Tom and Huck’s adventures they decide to go to a graveyard. While they were there, they witnessed the murder of Dr. Robinson. They could not believe what they had just witnessed what were they to do? Should they report what they saw and the murderer?
The novel continues, following their growth and their numerous adventures. One adventure they go on leads to a life changing event, allowing more opportunities and a possibility of a better life for some of the characters.
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LibraryThing member kaionvin
To the illustrious Mr. Mark Twain:

I avoided it when I stopped about a fifth of the way into A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court last year. But half-way through The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, it could be denied no longer.

I don’t think it’s going to work out between us.

It’s not you. Sure, you’re too overly nostalgic about your boyhood, which creates plot laxness more annoying to those who don’t share your experiences and fondness for the characters’ adventures. But you certainly got an ear for the slang, and I admire your contribution is portraying everyday life. You’re a clever, witty guy, and I still like that San Francisco quote.

It’s me. Hey, I love AuhMeriKha. I love colorful language and rip-rolling fun. But sorry, it’s just an unbidden nails-on-chalkboard cringe kind-of-thing. A visceral, unbidden rejection that spews into my insides with every spirited dead-cat shenanigan or high-falutin' rafting adventure plan that comes out of Tom Sawyer’s mouth.

(Maybe it’s Tom Brown’s Schooldays, which I excruciatingly suffered like the burning cart-wreck of sociopathy-masquerading-as-“boys while be boys” mentality it was when I partook in a children’s literature course last year.)

But buck up, you’ve still got that reputation as a classic American writer going for you. And there’s that new autobiography coming out… and being long six feet under probably helps take away a little of the sting.

So let's call it even, and be friends, the kind that never write and never speak, but only spoken of briefly, inaccurately, and politely.

Sincerely,
Kaion
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LibraryThing member multifaceted
I think more people should read this book! I read it as a young girl, and it was the book that made me love Mark Twain's writing--and classics in general, in fact. Yes, it is a boys' novel, but it can be interesting to girls as well, thank you very much. I remember this being quite an easy and suspenseful read, as well, and it contained a good mix between realistic fiction and elements of “fantasy”, of a sort—so there’s no reason not to try it!

While different from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I think this is a great, hilarious introduction to that book. Maybe because I read these two books almost simultaneously one after another, I can’t imagine *not* reading them in conjunction with one another. This book is where we first meet Huck Finn and get a little background on him, after all. And, of course, it's full of Twain's usual humor and wit. Maybe if more people would read Tom Sawyer before Huck Finn, they would understand the latter a bit better, and not feel the need to ban it or condemn it... or maybe I’m just obsessive. :)
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LibraryThing member arouse77
generally a fan of Twain, i didn't really enjoy this one as much as i expected to. i had read selected excerpts of this book as a child in a book of short stories and remembered enjoying them, but as an adult i have a vantage that makes the hyjinx of this child less than amusing.

i attribute it somewhat to the cultural divide between myself and the post-civil war south. the behavior seen as customary or appropriate for a pre-adolescent boy at that time and place seems appallingly bad to my mind. what's more, the tolerant attitude displayed toward Tom by his aunt serves to reinforce the behavior she rails against. self-assured and cocky, i fail to sympathize with this child on almost any level. the callous way he regards (or fails to regard) the feelings of others is not charming in the least. and when i cannot identify with my hero, i'm left fairly cold.

i also felt certain elements of the plot were not only fantastic, but repetitive. a child can only disappear so many times and muster the panic of the town, yet it seems Tom can go missing again and again and warrant the despair of all around him every time anew.

as far as it goes, i enjoyed the casual language and the cadence of the story shows the deftness of Twain in his element, but i simply failed to find anything endearing about his portrayal of a child he meant to paint as a scamp but whom i can only see as a wretched brat.
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LibraryThing member mermind
I plan to make a practice this year of re-reading books, not just books I enjoyed in my childhood and adolescent, but books from my own library that I keep because" I might want to read them 'someday'". I read Tom Sawyer more than once, more than twice, I don't actually remember how many times. At some point I began to understand that much of what Twain writes from Tom's point of view was ironic and therefore funny. I finally got the joke. This time I appreciated Twain's craftsmanship with plot, as well as character. Obviously, this book is a classic. I will probably read it again some year.… (more)
LibraryThing member andyray
This little paperback will do until (and if) I find my first edition. Hemingway and others have said Huckleberry Finn is the classic American novel, but I think this one is head and shoulders above Huck's book.
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
I have mixed feelings about this novel as either adult or children's book. The introduction says that though the two books are tied, the difference between Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn is that the first is a children's book and the second is a book about a child.

I'm not sure if I read this as a child--I suspect if I did, I read a censored, abridged illustrated version. And there is an issue parents should be aware of, at least if they're considering giving an unexpurgated version to a contemporary child. One is the use of negative Native American stereotypes. "Injun Joe" is said to be a "half-breed" and when a character hears Joe was planning to mutilate a woman, he comments only someone part Indian could think of doing that. The word "nigger" is also used several times in the book, and it's done casually, not in a way that would clue in a young child it's anything but an ordinary word.

I've heard this issue in connection with Huckleberry Finn, and in the context of an adult book like that one, written first person from the point of view of a half-literate child from the antebellum South and dealing with race relations, I'd think the use of that language appropriate--just as it is in novels by African Americans such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison that deal with race relations.

It does jar in a children's book though, and Tom Sawyer is a children's book, not really a book I think is going to appeal to adults the way Carroll's Alice books can. Some aspects delighted me, even as an adult. Having recently read such books as Uncle Tom's Cabin with the cloying child character of Little Eva and a reread of Little Women, it was a relief to read a child character like Tom that really is a child. Not some miniature adult or walking saint but a young boy who would trade dead animals or kite string for marbles, or trick friends into doing his chores, who hates school and church. The book isn't laden with over-description or formal, stiff language like many novels of the period. It flows beautifully and is filled with charm and humor. On the other hand, at times Tom is appalling in his unthinking cruelty in ways I found disturbing--such as when he allows his family to think he's dead so he can attend his own funeral. And the ending, while it might well delight a child, seems...childish.
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LibraryThing member lit_chick
2008, Blackstone Audiobooks, Read by Grover Gardner

Book Description: from BookDepository.com
Who could forget the pranks, the adventures, the sheer fun of Tom Sawyer? From Tom's sly trickery with the whitewashed fence to his and Becky Thatcher's calamities in Bat Cave, the enjoyment never ends. Just what did boys do in a small town during the mid-1800s, a time when there were no televisions, no arcades, and no videos? They whitewashed fences, floated down rivers, traded marbles, formed secret societies, smoked pipes, and, on occasion, managed to attend their own funerals. Yes, they may have been a bit mischievous, but as Aunt Polly said of Tom when she believed him to be dead, "He was the best-hearted boy that ever was." Aunt Polly's sentiments reveal one of Mark Twain's cardinal philosophies: In this deceitful and infirm world, innocence can be found only in the heart of a boy. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a humorous and nostalgic book depicting the carefree days of boyhood in a small Midwestern town. The characters are based on Twain's schoolmates and the town, Hannibal, Missouri, is where Twain grew up.

My Review:
Grover Gardner does a fabulous job of narration, and I enjoyed revisiting Tom’s adventures – I don’t think Twain grows old, and I expect this would “blamed pleased him.” My favourite part of the book is the last third: the ordeal in the cave. Endearing snapshots include the whitewashed fence, Tom and Becky eating their “wedding cake” in the case to ward off starvation, and Huck’s absolute hostility towards shoes and all things “reg’lar”:

“It ain't for me; I ain't used to it. The widder's good to me, and friendly; but I can't stand them ways. She makes me get up just at the same time every morning; she makes me wash, they comb me all to thunder; she won't let me sleep in the woodshed; I got to wear them blamed clothes that just smothers me, Tom; they don't seem to any air git through 'em, somehow; and they're so rotten nice that I can't set down, nor lay down, nor roll around anywher's … I can't chaw. I got to wear shoes all Sunday. The widder eats by a bell; she goes to bed by a bell; she gits up by a bell—everything's so awful reg'lar a body can't stand it.” (Ch 35)
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LibraryThing member andyzhou
Tom is a naughty boy which is a real bad boy image in adults mind.He always naught,mischief and truancy,and finally he goes away from home.He decided to be pirates with his friends,but actually they just want to make adults feel owed on them and keep this kind of feeling for sometime.In the end they are successful.After read this book we can learn that the best way to feel happy is smiling to life.If you pay attention to everything you see.You can find the life will be enrich.… (more)
LibraryThing member nslbluestockings
Our book-club book this month was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. We read it as part of the Alabama Reads campaign to encourage literacy and library usage in the state of Alabama. Some of the members had read it before and others had not. We all found ourselves loving the book. The storytelling is marvelous (I know for those of you already familiar you’re thinking “Duh!”) and the characters are endearing and who doesn’t love a bad-boy with a heart of gold. I’m even contemplating naming my 3rd child Sawyer.

It’s a book full of adventure, friendship, imagination, truth and lies and told in 3rd person from a child’s view of the world. My favorite quote comes from the scene in which Tom traded his way, through savvy manipulations, to get the free bible but didn’t know any scripture verses when asked to recite. The book concludes this vignette with the following: “Let us draw the curtain of charity over the rest of the scene.” Love it!
Huckleberry Finn being described as the “juvenile pariah of the Village”, “cordially hated and dreaded by all the mother of St. Petersburg and secretly admired by their children”, and “idle and lawless and vulgar and bad”. Whew, those are some harsh yet colorful descriptions.

I hope all families read it. For children the language may seem awkward and of course, dated, but they’ll enjoy the hijinks of the kids and the adventure. Gotta go now and start Huckleberry Finn:)
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LibraryThing member nicole-king
This book is very interesting. Tom is a main character in this book which is a noughty boy. In this book, there are many fanny things. Tom is a smart boy, and from him i can move on to my childhood. In this book, you also can learn many principles about how to become a real man. You can kown which is the truth and which is not. I never feel bored of this book. Because it is not only interesting but also you can improve your vocablary. I introduce this book for u and wish u read it and like it.… (more)
LibraryThing member booksfordeb
This book was one of my favorties as a child. I found Tom to be fun and relational. Twain's mastery at portraying realistic characters from this era is amazing.

Great Book! Read and have fun.
LibraryThing member saad_ksa
The story talk about Tom sawyer likes adventures.He and Joe harper
and huskleberry finn have an exciting life.One night in the graveyard he and huck finn see the men.who are they ,and what are they doing in the graveyard,in the middle of the night.Then the boys see that one of the men is lnjun Joe . Tom and huck never forget that night . They are afraid of lnjun Joe,and they are right to be afraid .Because lnjun Joe is very quick with a knife.… (more)
LibraryThing member ohjanet
Love it always but I can't say much that hasn't been said a million times over.
LibraryThing member MrsLee
A fun little book with some moments of wry humor. Interesting to note things that were not known about Africa and the Middle East when this was written. The story itself is not believable, but with this author, I never thought it was supposed to be.
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
Y'know, when reviewing a classic like this one, I feel a bit like I should be writing a more substantial essay. You know, something like how Tom fulfills the mythological role of the "Trickster" archetype, or analyzing the interpersonal dynamics between Aunt Polly and her adopted children, or something like that. Of course, I don't have that kind of time, not when I seem to be finishing another For Better or For Worse collection every few days or so and have next month's book club reads ahead of me. So I'll simply say that Tom Sawyer is a boy growing up in antebellum Missouri and his adventures are the type one might expect a young boy of that time to have, save that Tom really is a trickster and will outsmart other folks, more often than not. But that's not a bad thing. I tended to root for Tom, rather than start building up a jealous resentment of him. Mr. Twain painted such a human character that I was able to relate to Tom even though I would never have been able to figure out how to get out of whitewashing the fence or get Becky Thatcher to notice me. It's great stuff.
--J.
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LibraryThing member mayana
Tom Sawyer dose not like school and work.
But he loves adventures!
This book is very exciting.
I wanted to adventure too.
LibraryThing member lyzadanger
I like Twain as quote-worthy curmudgeon. I like his cynical way of writing. But, alas, I don't really like Tom Sawyer.

It's a melodrama that, while purporting to narrate Tom's story and take Tom's side, both condescends to its protagonist and never really gives a sense of motivation. Rascally, sure, mischievous, but why? We see hints of Tom's conscience from time to time, but the grief he puts his elders through seems nothing short of sociopathic at times.

Intriguingly, this story reads like a play. Give this some thought as you read the book. Scenes are clear-cut, action relatively confined in space, and entrances and exits highlighted (over fences, into caves, etc.).

What is appealing to me is the treatment of absolutely non-children's issues in the novel. Widow Douglas is absolutely threatened with rape. Murder happens. Racism. The children themselves act much more grown up than the preadolescents I know today--able to cook for themselves, boat, sleep in the open, drink and smoke--enough that I spent a lot of the time wondering just how old Tom was supposed to be. At times he seemed seven, at times fifteen.

This early wending into adulthood reminds that this bucolic drama is not entirely innocent: it deals with heavy topics; it takes place in a wilder time. It's an important document of Americana, just don't ask me to enjoy it too much.
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LibraryThing member bradsucks
Kind of... you know... boring. I didn't have the patience for it. Gave up after a hundred pages.
LibraryThing member rolandarad
This is a part of growing up and needs to be read earlier rather than later.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
This novel is full of high adventure of the kind that has disappeared for most children today. Tom and friends are full of imaginative play that they carry out in the wooded areas around their town. They play hooky and trade in junk and have all kinds of superstitious explanations for the world around them. While this book doesn't have any profound themes, it pictures of way of life, mostly gone, in such vivid detail that it seems to come to life again.… (more)
LibraryThing member KendraRenee
Mark Twain's style doesn't disappoint. He writes in such a way that I forget he's even there, between the reader and the story. The dialogue, I think, is the best part; Twain does it so well it's like hearing the characters themselves speak straight out from the pages. Unfortunately, I read this at age 24 and so, by that point, knew the story so well through other venues (Wishbone, tv specials, movies, etc.) that nothing could at all surprise me. But still, I enjoyed it--especially the religious waywardness of its central characters. Just don't know what to make of the talk of, and attitude towards, blacks. Is Twain unconsciously or satirically reflecting the mindset of those times?… (more)

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