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It is hard to say what makes a book a 'classic'. Is it an exciting story? ...memorable characters? ...a lesson learned? ...a famous author? It is difficult to say of any one thing: 'this defines a classic novel.' For one reader's 'classic' story might well be another reader's 'boring' tale.
But just as time and consensus gradually define classic films and songs, so do the cumulative reading experiences of millions of readers help define classic books. Stories that excite and enthrall readers, young and old alike, will continue to be re-read and shared year after year, generation after generation. The love of a story well-told is passed from grandfather to daughter to grandson. Perhaps the young reader discovers the story from a school reading list or at the urging of an inspiring teacher.
These beloved stories are the type HarperFestival, a division of HarperCollins Publishers Inc., has collected in their Charming Classics series. The stories chosen for this series are available individually or in boxed sets. Each book/set is packaged with a 'charm' on a necklace chain. This set features a rabbit, a winged fairy, and a pair of ruby slippers. ( A young boy receiving these books could simply give the necklace/charms to a sister or girl friend and pretend he never saw them..!! )
Featured in this particular boxed set are 'classic' tales of young girls (and a boy or two) thrown into new and strange worlds. Each story finds the heroine faced with taking charge and making the best of the situation using skill, courage, and wit.
The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, is the well-known tale of Dorothy and her dog Toto, transported to the Land of Oz. Feted for her act of killing (accidentally, of course) the Wicked Witch of the East, Dorothy must travel to the Emerald City to ask Oz the Wizard how to return to Kansas. Along the way, she adds colorful companions: a scarecrow needing a brain, a tin man seeking a heart, and a lion wanting courage. The story is more entangled than as adapted for the famous 1939 Garland film but seems less 'scary' to this reader/viewer.
Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, tells the story of a boy who can not grow up and lives forever young in Neverland. Wendy Darling, her brothers, the fairy Tinker Bell, and the 'lost boys', all share in grand adventures involving the pirates and Captain Hook, redskins, and a giant crocodile with a strange ticking noise deep in his belly. Learning to fly, learning to live in an underground home, learning to survive without their mother are all adventures found in the pages of this story. In the end the grand adventure remains possible as long as they believe in Neverland.
Alice In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, is the oddest of the three entries found here. After Alice follows the White Rabbit down a rabbit hole she learns that many things in this new world are not as they seem and things seldom remain as they are. The White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the King and Queen of Hearts, and the hookah-smoking caterpillar are just a few of the original, one-of-a-kind characters found here. Can Alice find her true size, will she drown in her own salty tears, will the Queen have her beheaded..?? Only time, and the story, will tell.
All these stories are targeted at 8 to 12 year old readers by the publisher. I think both girls and boys will find the stories exciting and interesting. While they may not have the visual stimulation of an Xbox 360 game they will draw the young reader into these unique worlds and unique situations. In particular the 'sassy' attitude of Alice and the quirky, unique characters fleshed out by Carroll in Alice In Wonderland will strike a chord with the younger reader.
The Bottom Line
Good stories and 'classic' tales can draw any reader into the power and synthesis of the written word. Each of these stories will be fondly remembered and shared by any first-time reader.
The Rest of the Story...
Write-offs are a storied tradition here on Epinions. Members join together to write about a particular product, topic, or area of interest.
But rarely has the idea of a write-off been put to such good use as has the 'Fight illiteracy' Write Off sponsored by fellow users dramastef and hadassahchana. Stef and Cindy had the idea of asking Epinions community members to buy a book, review it, and then donate the book to the Mississippi Humanities Council for their use in fighting illiteracy.
Please visit the link above to learn more about this write-off and to get a full measure of the passion of Epinions users/writers for spreading their love of the written word.
I am pleased, proud, and yes ...humble, to offer this review and this product to the write-off effort. I only hope that the eventual recipient(s) will enjoy these books as much as I have as I read and reviewed them here on Epinions.