AChip o’ the ‘ol’ Block? Tom Sawyer

I was sorting out books in the attic, to donate to Cancer Research Shop when I came across Mark Twain’s two classics, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. I saved those for the grandchildren.

Inside the latter, I found the following review, written for a homework assignment by my youngest son Steven when he was eleven years old. I thought it worth reprinting here. Make up your own mind!

‘I thought at first sight that this book would be very good. I had seen one or two episodes of the TV version some two years earlier and it was well-acted and I had really enjoyed it. 

I began to have doubts as soon as I started reading. A lot of words are abbreviated with missing letters replaced by apostrophes. This is an attempt to simulate youth dialect of Mississippi (St Petersberg) of the 19th century.

I can appreciate that they probably did talk like that, but it makes some sentences very hard to read. I also spotted a few spelling mistakes – not a lot, but enough to make you think poorly of the proof-reader.

The first few chapters were very boring as very little happened. Using the best of my will-power, I ploughed on. A bit of a storyline began to emerge.

Basically Tom hated Sunday School. It was mainly ‘dressing up’. His showing off in front of Becky just made me sick. But I laughed in embarrassment for him!

When Huckleberry Finn was introduced, I was amazed. In the author’s note in the preface, the author states that the characters are based on real-life people. This young guy – he was just my age now ! – smoked a pipe, almost never attended school, went fishing any time he liked, stayed up as long as he liked, and outdoors, the same. 

I would like to have met this cowboy!

I thought it was interesting the way the relationship grew between Huck and Tom; and between Tom and Becky. In chapter seven the boys were caught by the teacher, in the classroom, playing with a tick. I was caught like that, several times.  I would like to have known what a tick is!

Of all the adventures the boys shared, I think the second best was when they saw Muff Potter, Dr Robinson and Injun Joe digging up a grave – and the fatal fight at the end of it all. Then Tom had to go to Court. I thought that was all nail-biting and kept you on the edge of your seat.

The best adventure, in my ratings, happened out on Jackson’s Island on the Mississippi River. The two boys were running away, in the company of a black slave. It was great fun, but I felt sorry for Aunt Polly, who was grieving. One of the funniest parts was when they walked in on their own funerals. That was very witty indeed.

One person I never warmed to was Becky. She just got me mad!

For some reason I didn’t like the adventure when they entered the cave and found the treasure. I stuck it out though.

All in all I thought the book was poor. I can understand how grown-ups like it though. It’s more for their age! I would recommend this book for anybody over thirty. Those younger should just stick to The Simpsons.

I would give this book a rating of 5/10.


I reckon he’s a chip off the ol’ block, don’t you?



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