Classics and Books Commonly Assigned for School

In our general book list, we have worked to provide parents and educators with our comments and suggestions regarding children’s reading material. We have found it necessary to compile a separate list devoted to books which are commonly assigned for in-class or at-home reading assignments. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare to find classics that are as completely problem-free as we would like. In addition, many classics gloss over sensitive issues, but schools should be aware that students can easily access Cliff’s Notes or similar explanatory notes (either on-line or at the library) that clarify these issues in graphic detail. Introductions, prefaces, biographies of authors and other addenda often provide inappropriate information as well. Therefore, although our comments are based on our reading of the original works, we also provide comments on the Cliff’s Notes, etc. so that schools and teachers can make informed choices. (Experienced educators have informed us that forbidding the use of explanatory notes is generally ineffective as some students are determined to read them in the place of the original text)

These comments on classics are written in as much detail as possible, in order to aid principals and educators in deciding if and how these works will be used in their school. We have included grade recommendations; however, keep in mind that these are based on our own, unscientific approximation. Please note: for many of the 'classics', we generally do not make recommendations. Each school will need to balance the potential problems in a book, with the educational value it seeks.

For books that are used as assignments but unlikely to be picked up by a child outside of school, we omitted the usual rating and simply marked them as "Classic."

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Title, Author
Review Date Title Author Rating Grades Teen Comments
05/24/2018 A Connecticut Yankee - The Library of America Edition Twain, Mark Classic 9 - 12
" A very satirical tongue-in-cheek story about an 18th century man who finds himself in King Arthur's court and tries to modernize them. A lot of direct criticism of the power of the Catholic Church, but not criticism of religion in general. The man unwillingly goes on a quest with a fair maiden sitting on the horse behind him - eventually he marries her. Description of wives kissing husbands before they are killed, and women suckling newborns before they are burned at the stake. Some anatomy detailed. Somewhat vague references to the queen being unfaithful to the king."
05/24/2018 A Little Princess Burnett, Frances Hodgson Acceptable 5 - 8
Beautiful classic about a little rich girl in a boarding school. When her father dies she is treated as a servant until she is discovered by father's old friend.
05/24/2018 A Long Walk To Water Park, LInda Sue Generally Acceptable 6 - 8
A story set in the war torn Sudan told from the perspective of an orphaned boy forced by war to run to a refugee camp, and a girl more than 20 years later who has to walk very far to get disease ridden drinking water for her family. Ultimately, the boy immigrates to the USA and creates an organization that helps the girl's village dig a lifesaving well.
Religion/Hashkafa
Man speaks about his cause in churches. No religion.
Violence
Sensitively written, but the horrible conditions are quite stark and the boy watches his uncle shot by enemies.
05/24/2018 A Passage To India Forster, E.M. Classic 10 - 12
Novel focuses on race relations between the natives of India and the British officials and their wives who are stationed in India. Plot revolves around an attempted assault on a British young woman. An Indian doctor is accused of the crime and sides are drawn between the accusers and the accused.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A constant discussion of mistresses, brothels, impropriety, being attracted or not attracted to a specific kind of girl, calling a girl a prude, commenting on her lack of prominent anatomy, thinking about relations with other gender (not stated so politely), contemplating about what lies to tell to get away to have relations with a woman in a different city,man asks bachelor if he has any illegitimate children,thinking if it is snobbery to only want to have relations with beautiful women, question if there was any impropriety when a man offered a woman housing in his college, etc. Men and women shake hands. Young couple decides not to get engaged for excellent reasons, but when their car is in a minor accident her hand accidentally touches his “ and one of the thrills so frequent in the animal kingdom passed between them, and announced that all their difficulties were only a lovers’ quarrel.” and more of the same.
Religion/Hashkafa
Highly detailed description of Hinduism (seems like straight out avodah zarah)- pages and pages of minutely detailed practices and beliefs, religious songs with explanations, discussions of belief in gods, festival, temple,alter, etc. Some details about Islam and Christianity as well- mosques, missionaries, beliefs, G-d is referred to as Jeh--a, etc.. Discussions of atheism, does one truly believe in heaven, changing religious beliefs etc.Mention of prehistoric ocean.A lot of cigarette smoking. Towards the end of the book one sentence blames India’s problems on the Jews.
Language
Language- damn/damned (multiple times), stupid/ stupidity, blast, idiot, nigger.
05/24/2018 A Single Shard Park, Linda Sue Generally Acceptable 6 - 8
A Newberry Medal book that is acceptable! A Korean orphan who lives under a bridge with a kind vagrant, becomes an apprentice to a master potter and is eventually adopted by him when his friend dies. At end of book, excerpts of 2 books by same author - "See Saw Girl" and "The Kite Fighters".
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
One word mention of King's concubines - no explanation.
Religion/Hashkafa
A lot of Korean culture but very little religion beyond description of monks helping people and giving presents on Buddha's birthday.
05/24/2018 Adventures & Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Doyle, Arthur Conan Generally Acceptable 7 - 10
Teen
Description of opium & casual cocaine use, "aversion to women"
05/24/2018 All of a Kind Family Taylor, Sydney Problematic 4 - 6
Historical Fiction. Jewish girls growing up in the Lower East Side. Jewish content somewhat accurate. Jewish girl has crush on non-Jewish peddler- she is awkward around him and blushes. She is sad when she finds out he has a "sweetheart" he is trying to locate. She imagines when he finds his sweetheart "he will take her in his arms..." When he does really find her he kisses her. Mention of unreviewed book by title- "Peter and Polly In Winter". Brief , unimportant mentions of old fashioned undergarments. Oldest girl dresses up in boy's clothing for Purim.Children read St. Nicholas" magazine. Mixed swimming at the beach (illustration of coed beach scene in old fashioned bathing suits) . Family seems to eat purchased food (eg candy, ice cream, hot pretzel, etc.) without worrying about kashrus- but not stated clearly. Language- heck (p113), freak. It may be a classic, but...
05/24/2018 Around the World in 80 Days- Great Illustrated Classics edition Verne, Jules Problematic 4 - 6
A greatly abridged version of classic story of man and his servant who travel around the world in 80 days in order to win a bet. Save a woman who is slated to be burned as "a human sacrifice to the gods", end up "falling in love" and marrying. Black and white illustration of her wearing sleeveless top. Illustration of women hugging man when she is relieved he returned safely. Illustration of man holding woman's hand when he proposes. Language - stupid (once)
05/24/2018 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Dahl, Roald Generally Acceptable 5 - 7
Poor boy is selected to go on fantastic chocolate factory tour. Minor language. Mr. Wonka is insulting to other adults. Very tongue in cheek.
05/24/2018 Chasing Vermeer Balliett, Blue Questionable 6 - 8
A convoluted and strange mystery/puzzle book where children try to locate a stolen work of art. P 33 - juvenile rhyme about boy and girl stuck in closet together. A few mentions in passing of art in museum being paintings of ladies in "too tight dresses" or "naked people" - easy to cross out. Talk of supernatural and if coincidences are real. Some kids will love the book and some won't get it.
05/24/2018 Cheaper by the Dozen Gilbreth Jr., Frank B. and Ernestine Carey Classic 6 - 9
Adventures of a family with 12 children. A lot of minor bad language: heck, damned, bloody bastards, g-damn, JC (as curse), freaks, sucker, and more. Inconclusive, vague discussion about "flowers and bees" and where babies come from - leaves kids wondering. A few vague allusions to "women of the night" and "loose women" but never explained. Family tricks ladies who are looking for a home to hold a meeting for "Society for Birth Control". Lots of talk of being sad since baby will be last child (reader wonders - how do they know?). Lots of juvenile, old fashioned, boy/girl courting among high schoolers. Girls convince father to let them be modern and wear bobbed haircuts, silk stockings, short skirts and short underwear. Father eventually gives in to everything but makeup and perfume. Talk about collegiate boys and girls "petting", "necking", and "jazzing".
05/24/2018 Cricket and the Crackerbox Kid Ferguson, Alane Problematic 4 - 6
A lonely rich girl risks friendship with poor boy over ownership of a dog. Cattiness and bad middos of other rich kids described in detail. Not a romantic friendship but other kids tease and make kissing sounds when they are together. 160-161 a few lines of x-mas hymns. Other x-mas stuff mentioned without religion.
05/24/2018 David Copperfield Dickens, Charles Classic 9 - 12
(Pages refer to Penguin Classics Edition).A typical (long) novel of Dickens. An orphan struggles to make it in the world, overcomes cruel circumstances, finds a savior in a eccentric great aunt, eventually becomes a successful author. Lots of intertwined plots and romance of the old fashioned variety. Minor Religion. Refers to friend/girlfriend as a "lover". Old fashioned romantic negiah usually of the soon to be married variety or at dances. Long and detailed description of a marriage between a mature young man and an immature flighty girl and how he made the best of it even though he realized they were not well matched. One story line involves a young girl married to a man many years her senior and everyone's suspicions that she is having an affair with a younger man - turns out to be not true.Describes in detail some adults who treat children cruelly and some who don’t. Lots of youthful crushes, some flirting, some juvenile kissing and mild negiah. Quote about the resurrection – p. 142 chap 9.. Black and white illustration of women nursing a baby – somewhat detailedLanguage – stupid, drat (p 120 chap 8) For C___ sake (p 345 chap 22)One important story line about an upper class boy who seduces a lower class girl who is engaged to someone else and they run away together until he abandons her. She is so ashamed she moves to Australia.Penguin Classics Edition- IntroductionP. xxii – reference to home for “fallen women” - prostitutes in AustraliaCliff’s NotesOverall, much more subtle than usual but a few problems. Reviews a few of boy’s childhood crushes clearly noting a kiss (eg chapters 9-10) and co-ed dancing (chapters 17-18). Alludes to a character as being a “fallen woman” but doesn’t explain. Describes how she “flirts” because the one she really loves is talking to another man (chap 33-34).Chap 47-48 woman wants to commit suicide (not clear in book)Chap 43-44 says author married Catherine Hogarth even though apparently cared more for wife’s sister.Spark NotesOverall, not much more problematic than the book itself, but uses different labels for things that are problematic – eg, says a character is suspected of having an “affair” with her cousin. No mention of prostitution.
05/24/2018 Death Be Not Proud Gunther, John Classic 10 - 12
Novel takes the reader through a father’s perspective of his teenage boy’s fatal illness that eventually leads to his death. le you live, then die and be done with”. These types of religious discussions permeate the entire book. For his funeral they had a rabbi and a priest conduct a joint service. The rabbi read the “Unbeliever’s Prayer” aloud. This book is set during World War II, so much of the medical information is outdated.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Boy is worried that he won’t know how to dance at the senior prom. Likes a certain girl- speaks to her on the phone, says his temperature goes up when he sees her, but he is so sick that nothing comes of it. When doctor wants to put him on a regime of hormones he says “Look out or you’ll make a s-- maniac of me”
Religion/Hashkafa
There are a number of religious issues. The parents (who are divorced) seem to be Christians, but later it is explained that the mother is Jewish. There is a lot of talk of G-d and if one should believe in Him and how to believe in Him. Boy goes to a Christian school, and when he is home his mother conducts church services at home and read “The Bible of the World, The Old Testament and the New, The Prophets and J, also Buddha, Confucius, and Mahomet…” The mother says of G-d that though He stood by her, “in all His onmipotence, was helpless too (C”V)” To her, life is a series of mutations that G-d is also subject to. The boy himself was sometimes an atheist and sometimes an agnostic and wrote a prayer called the “Unbelievers Prayer” which is written out in its entirety- twice- basically doubting G-d’s existence. According to him “G-d is what’s good in me”. His philosophy- “Live, while you live, then die and be done with”. These types of religious discussions permeate the entire book. For his funeral they had a rabbi and a priest conduct a joint service. The rabbi read the “Unbeliever’s Prayer” aloud. Brief mentions of xmas, presents, carols.
Language
Language- hell (twice), G-- damn it (once) damn (once)
TV, Movies, Rock Music, Internet and other Media
Many mentions of going to the movies, movies by name, books by name.
05/24/2018 Dibs in Search of Self Axline, Virginia Classic 10 - 12
Teen
True account of a brilliant and apparently autistic boy, with emotionally distant and abusive parents, who is successfully treated using play therapy. Nicely done, although somewhat outdated, since a) diagnosis of autism had not been established, b) boy is ‘cured’ quickly over a few months, and c) reinforces the idea popular at the time, that autism was caused by ‘refrigerator parents’. Woman offers another person a cigarette.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Mother says that boy’s conception was an accident; they had not intended to have any children.
Religion/Hashkafa
Some childish discussion of G-d, church and religion - Christian based but without mention of JC. Mention of St. Francis of Assissi, Saint of the animals.
Language
Word ‘gay’ used to mean ‘happy’.
05/24/2018 Emma Bronte, Charlotte and "Another Lady" Classic 9 - 12
(see also book by Jane Austin with the same title). A young girl abandoned at a boarding school is adopted by a single man and woman who try to find out her identity and eventually marry. Mentions of going to church, sitting in pews, catechism, confirmation, etc.. Celebration of xmas- gifts, charity. Detailed descriptions of young woman’s miserable marriage to an older man whose stepchildren refused to have any sort of relationship with her. Alot of wondering as to who real father of a baby is. Chapt 4 pg. 31- “joyful on xmas day becuase we celebrate the birthday of our savior, the lord jc”. Chapt 5 pg 47-48 priest speaks of G-d “as the fountain of light, life, truth, love, peace and joy”and pour out his glory through jc. Chapt7 pg 68- hellish. Chapt 7 pg 69- no witch could have power over a good christian child. Chapt 8 pg 86- a baby born dead can not be buried in consecrated ground of churchyard since it isn’t christian. Chapt 10 pg 97- woman worries that a man wants to progress beyond their platonic friendship, but she is afraid since her first marriage was so miserable.Chapt 10 pg 102- girl wrote a story based on the truth- two women who were in love with the same gentleman fought a duel and one shot the others finger off. Man refused to marry either one of them. Chapt 12 pg 136- list of books by title and author recommended for a man to read in order to study to be a priest.
05/24/2018 Ender's Game Card, Orson Scott Classic 8 - 11
Boy genius saves the world from aliens. Language, male anatomy. Other books in series are very inappropriate for children.
05/24/2018 Ethan Frome Wharton, Edith Classic 9 - 12
(Page numbers refer to Enriched Classic Pocket Books Edition)A man is in an unhappy marriage falls in love with a cousin who is living in his house to help his sickly wife. He imagines being with her but in the end he can’t be unfaithful to his wife so they try to unsuccessfully try to commit suicide together.Introduction-pVIII-author had an unhappy marriage and had a “passionate love affair” for three years. pX-author’s husband committed “infidelities” pXIII-women who didn’t end up marrying had to either work in a factory or become prostitutes.First chapter-l p12-hell P14-mention of church (as a landmark)Chapter I-p24-38-married man stands outside church watching a coed dance and dreams of being with a single girlchapter II-p47-he puts his arms around her p52-he thinks about kissing herchapter III-p58-he thinks about being alone in the house with her for the night while his wife is awaychapter IV-p67-man interrupts engaged couple kissingchapter VIII-p108-110-considers leaving his wife and running away with the girl he loveschapter IX-p135-they kissnotes on the book-p152-Greek mythology p153-prostitution p160-virgincritical excerpts-p169-extramarital liason, sexual passion p174-sexual maturity suggestions for interested reader-p181-182-brief reviews of novels which may or may not be appropriate
05/24/2018 Frankenstein Shelley, Mary Classic 9 - 12
"(Pages below, and comments regarding introduction, refer to Penguin Classics Edition)A classic tale which is often much distorted in modern culture. A young man discovers the secret of creating life and succeeds in creating a monstrous being. He later regrets his creation. The monster eventually takes revenge on his creator by killing all the people his creator cares for. In this edition the front and back covers depict an unclothed man which is really stark and should probably be covered with a book cover.The introduction is highly problematic in detailing in a painstaking fashion the immoral lifestyle of the author. It also goes into very deep philosophical discussions about the nature of creation and various philosophical belief systems.Other than the premise that man can give life and create a living and thinking being there is little else problematic.Vol.I. Chapt V p 59-man imagines embracing a girl (his future bride) and a “kiss on the lips” but she dies in his arms.Chapt VI p69-d-n the fellowVol II chapt.V p123-old man kisses and embraces his son’s fiancé Chapt.VII p 132-brief discussion about book “Paradise Lost”- “An omnipotent G-d warring with his creatures…”A few mentions of hell implying a terrible experience- chap V p60, Chapt VIII p89, vol ll chapt. VIII p138, vol.III chapt VII pg 206The appendix and notes in the back of the book were not reviewed as of yet."
05/24/2018 Frindle Clements, Andrew Generally Acceptable 3 - 5
Boy tests out rules of language by coining a new word. Undertone of lack of respect for adults and authority, and message that kids know best.
05/24/2018 Goody Hall Babbit, Natalie Questionable 5 - 8
A boy is raised in luxury by his mother, after his father is reported dead, but the the boy suspects that he is alive. With the help of a friendly tutor, the boy solves the mystery of his family. Well written, unusual story. Language: Gates of Hell; man rides horse "hell for leather". Mentions of Hercules (tutor's namesake) and his "Twelve Labors" from Greek mythology. At end of book. tutor kisses dour housekeeper on the forehead - not out of feelings for her, but out of happiness about the turn of events.
05/24/2018 Gulliver's Travels Swift, Jonathan Classic 8 - 10
Satirical commentary on human nature about adventures of an Englishman's voyage. Lots of bathroom references, religious references, and procreation references which are wholly inappropriate but written in such sophisticated and ironical language that a child reading this story for adventure may miss it. However, an older child reading it carefully (i.e. for school) will encounter all sorts of unacceptable descriptions.
06/11/2018 Hard Times Dickens, Charles Classic 9 - 12
(Page numbers refer to Penguin Classics Edition)This novel is set in nineteenth century industrial England. A factory worker is set up by a rich boy to be falsely accused of robbing a bank (to cover up his own crime). A father learns that his system of rational education (utilitarianism) is faulty when his logical daughter who marries for practical reasons is seduced by a family friend and she doesn’t know how to handle it (nothing actually happens, but the gradual, well planned out road to the seduction is detailed quite clearly). Detailed description of drunken mother who mistreats her young son- turns out to be a lie much later in the book(chapt 4 pg 60)Notes at the front of the book- author fell “passionately in love” with a girl. Later married someone else and seperated from her and “befriended” a young actress “who may have become his mistress”. Mentions of novels and authors. Brief mention that park admission was free except during hours of church service. A number of mentions that circus women were not “at all particular in respect of showing their legs”. A lot of smoking and drinking throughout the novel.notes at the back of the book- Book 1 Chapter 5- discusses laws to make people religious by force. Baptism was withheld from unwed mothers until she got a letter from her employer “testifying to her previous good character, her shame, and capacity for hard work”
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A man’s wife becomes a drunkard who lives on the streets, but he is not allowed to divorce her, so he conducts a chaste love affair with another woman.Asks if there is a law that would punish him if he lived with her without marrying her (since he is not allowed to marry her)- there is such a law. A lot of minor negiah- kisses on the cheek, men kiss girl goodbye, woman lightly lays her hand on man’s arm, woman kisses man’s hand, when man is trying to seduce married women puts his arm around her and “embraces” her- she sits frozen.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many brief mentions of going to church service, church bells.Man dreams of having wedding in church.
Language
Man falls down a hole called “Hell shaft”Language- idiot, stupid, ass (pg 205book 2 chapt.7), damned (pg 212 book 2 chapt 8) for C-----’s sake (pg 290 book 3 chapt. 6). Book 1 Chapter 15- efforts were damned
05/24/2018 Heidi Spyri, Johanna Generally Acceptable 4 - 6
Classic story of girl brought up on mountain by eccentric grandfather. Good midos. Many minor religious references - pretty neutral, ie "higher being": pages 124, 192, 263, 277
06/12/2018 Hiroshima Hersey, John Classic 10 - 12
Novel follows the lives of a few survivors of the nuclear attack on Japan.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
.”Many mentions of people in their underwear when blast hit, man finding blood in his underwear because he had kidney stones. Mention that reproductive processes were affected- “men became sterile...menstruation stopped.” Mention of women bringing babies to orphanages because the fathers were American soldiers. Sometimes fathers tracked down the mothers of their babies and married them. Mention of Japanese prostitutes. Father teaches son to dance, takes him to a dance hall introduces him to a girl and tells her to be gentle with him.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many mentions of priests, church and religion but always in a detached, news reporter fashion. Jesuits, Catholics, priests, minister, theological students, nuns, monks, zen, relatively neutral prayers read, mass, bible classes, communion, constant trying to convert people. One of the survivors is from the Society of J----. Women asks priest “If your G-d is so good and kind how can he let people suffer like this?” Priest answers “man is not now in the condition G-d intended. He has fallen from grace through sin. Description of a shrine dedicated to spirits of those killed in wars.
Violence
Very detailed and graphic descriptions throughout this novel of horrific injuries and death caused by the radiation.
TV, Movies, Rock Music, Internet and other Media
TV
05/24/2018 Johnny Tremain Forbes, Esther Questionable 6 - 9
Historical fiction. Set in Boston, Revolutionary War. An orphan gets involved with the Patriots. Ongoing subtle love story runs throughout the novel but not integral focus.
05/24/2018 Julius Ceasar Shakespeare, William Classic 9 - 12
"(Pages below, and comments regarding introduction, refer to The Folger Library General Reader’s Shakespeare)Introduction, page 19 – Shakespeare was married hastily and daughter was born 6 months later.Introduction, page 22 – Shakespeare’s daughter married under “somewhat scandalous circumstances”.When Julius Caesar, member of the Roman senate, seems to be seeking the crown, he is killed by a group that includes one of his friends. Another friend avenges his death. Use of the words “damned” and “hell” in their proper usages.Act 2, Scene 1 (line 300) – Wife states that if husband won’t share his concerns with her, she is like a harlot and not a wife.Act 5, Scene 4 – bastard used in non-specific usage"
05/24/2018 Little House in the Big Woods Wilder, Laura Ingalls Problematic 3 - 5
Little girls growing up in a log cabin. Slaughter of animals described in painstaking detail. X-mas described in detail. Sunday described in detail - kids will draw parallel to Shabbos (lehavdil). Bedtime prayer - "now I lay me down'. Co-ed dance - illustration of men and women dancing. Can tear out pages.
05/24/2018 Little House On The Prairie Wilder, Laura Ingalls Problematic 3 - 5
Classic story of a family that moves west. Girl asks parents if dogs go to heaven-father answers” yes, G-d wouldn’t leave a good dog out in the cold”. A full chapter on xmas and girls hope of Santa Claus bringing her presents. Very warm and fuzzy description of the holiday. Father sings song about angels and saints (p170). Brief unimportant mention of women’s undergarments. Description of “naked” Indians. Some scary moments when cabin is surrounded by wolves and when fear Indians will “massacre” (never defined but implication is clear).
05/24/2018 Little Lord Fauntleroy Burnett, Frances Hodgson Generally Acceptable 5 - 8
A little boy raised in a simple way by his American mother, suddenly finds out he is a lord and must go to England to live with his rich, crotchety grandfather. Innocent comments about liking to look at girls (p. 102 chapter 6). Description of church service - kneeling and folding hands in prayer - no heavy religion (p. 134-135, chap. 7). Drawn out description of a beautiful woman who all the men fawn over,seen through a young boy's eyes (p. 176-177 ch. 10; p 234 chap 15)
05/24/2018 Little Women Alcott, Louisa May Classic 6 - 9
4 sisters grow up together, fall in love, and marry, except for one who dies young. Very religious family – father is a minister.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A lot of old fashioned boy/girl, many dances described, talk of flirting. Eg p. 300-301 (part 2 chap 32) a lot of platonic boy/girl and questions if platonic relationship can turn into romantic love and then back to platonic again a lot of negiah. Some affectionate between “friends”, some mildly romantic, a lot unclear eg: p. 171-172 (part 1 chap 18) p. 210 (part 1 chap 23) p. 233 (part 1 chap 25) p 390-391 (part 2 chap 41) p. 439 (part 2 chap 46)A lot of courting leading to marriage which includes mild negiah.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many references to religion but not explained clearly – eg many mentions of “Pilgrim’s Progress” and trying to reach the “celestial city” by being good, eg p 10-11 (part 1 chapter 1), p. 132 (part 1 chapter 13)a lot of x-mas presents, santa claus, being good on x-mas. E.g. p. 3 (part 1 chapter 4), entire chapter 2 (part 1)Talk of heavenly father p. 77 (part 1 chap 8)crosses and rosaries – p. 178-179 (part 1 chap 19)JC – p. 184 (part 1 chap 20 ). Madonna and child and x-mas – p 202 (part 1 chap 22). Hymn – p. 206 (part 1 chap 22)
05/24/2018 Lord of the Flies Golding, William Classic -
A group of boys are marooned on a desert isle without adults, and try to form some semblance of society, but instead revert to being savages and even attacking each other, leading to the death of 2 boys. Discussion potential about man’s essential nature being essentially evil according to author.Biggest issue – in back of book, “Note on Lord of the Flies” goes into great descriptive detail pointing out how the killing of a sow was accomplished as a form of intimacy (not phrased quite this nicely), which is something kids would never pick up on independently (p 206—207)
Language
Lots of shut up Chap 1 p 13 sucks, boy calls asthma “ass-mar” Chap 4 p 74 damn you Chap 6 p 101 sucks Chap 8 p 124 hell; p 135 ass; p 140 ass-mar Chap 10 p 162 ass-mar; p 168 “I hit him in the pills “ (slang for male anatomy).
05/24/2018 Master of the World Verne, Jules Generally Acceptable 8 - 9
Teen
A police inspector investigates strange happenings in a mountain and tries to capture an inventor who created a vehicle that can't be stopped by human beings. A bit outdated by modern technology but a fun read with some discussion potential. Many references to the devil but no real religion.
05/24/2018 Moby Dick Melville, Herman Classic 9 - 12
A crazed captain takes his crew on a whaling voyage to capture the whale who made him lose his leg. Very, very detailed descriptions of whales, their habits, anatomy, how they are killed and how each part of their body is used after death. This review is not complete as some of the chapters were skimmed, not read carefully. Many biblical quotes about whales and other related topics- semi accurate translations. Mentions of the "New Testament". Harpooner worships idols (described) and decends from cannibals. Detailed description of the chapel where they pray and the "father" who preached- sermon detailed in full- retelling of the story of "Jonah and the whale"- somewhat creative version.l. Sailor wonders if there is really a problem with idol worship and ends up concluding that the will of G-d is "to do to my fellow man what I would have my fellow man do to me"- and since he would like the canibal to "unite with him in Presbyterian form of worship" , he should likewise unite with him in his idolatry- so he joins him in worshiping his idol- said in a humorous fashion. Use of JC last name as a curse. Sailor ends up sharing bed with harpooner- in his sleep he threw his arm around him in a "bridegroom clasp", compared them to a man and wife and called them a "cozy loving pair"- all of this humorous (written at a time when 2 men married was a joke) .One word xmas. Brief mention of "nakedness" of native "dancing girls". Language- be damned/damn/dam/damndest (frequent), hell, blast,
05/24/2018 My Antonia Cather, Willa Classic 9 - 12
P36-38-story of 2 men who were driving a bride and groom. Men threw the couple to the wolves to lighten the wagon to save themselves. IX-p42-singing in church P47-christian people often forget “they were her brother’s keepers” XI-p48-52-xmas described-gifts, tree, story of 3 kings and baby in manger (not told in great detail), father reads chapter in St. Mathew about the birth of JC, prayers, man makes sign of the cross XIV-p51-60-old man commits suicide- described vividly. People say he is in purgatory.XV-p61-the family wants a priest to “pray over him”man says we believe you don’t need a priest because “JC is our only intercessor” P62-boy helps priest at the alter, first communion, vessels of the “holy sacrament” XVI-p67-family makes sign of the cross on the dead body P68- sing hymn- “JC lover of my soul” XVII-p70- “he not JC” P71-girl takes boy’s hand- affectionate, not romantic XVIII-p72-74-minor violence P77-woman kisses man’s hand out of gratefulnessBook IIIV-p92-92-detailed description of married man who enjoyed being with single girlVI-p98-woman believes that JC was born in BohemiaVII-p105- mixed dancingVIII-p108- dittoIX-p109-112 (whole chapter)- description of the dynamics of boy/girl relationshipsX-p113- girl slaps soon to be married (to someone else) man when he tries to kiss herXII-p122-mixed dancing, boy wants to kiss girlXIV-p130-girl flirts with boy- runs fingers through his hairXV-p134-135-man unsuccessfully tries to rape girl- not stated explicitly but clearly understoodBook IIIIV-p156-157-girl explains why doesn’t want to marry P157- brief kiss P158- dittoBook IVBeginning of book IV, especially chapter III- description of how woman had illegitimate baby- states clearly that she never married baby’s father.Book VII-p188-boy describes how he and his father (married) danced with femalesExplanatory notesP208 -209- JCP216- man impregnated hired girlsP221- greek mythology, hellP222- woman should agree to be man’s mistress
05/24/2018 Of Mice and Men Steinbeck, John Classic 9 - 12
"2 men, George and Lennie, work as itinerant farm laborers; Lennie is very mentally challenged, and is also very strong. Lennie unintentionally gets into trouble when he hurts or kills animals or people. Once he touched a girl’s dress and he couldn’t let go, and she accused him of rape. At the end of the book, he accidentally kills a man’s wife, and George kills him to prevent him from being lynched.A lot of strong language, including hell, damn, bitch, bastard, JC (as curse).Wife of boss’s son is flirtatious and tries to get attention from farm workers. Men call her a tart and say she is bait for jail. Man comments that it is preferable for a man to go to a whorehouse and get everything out of his system all at once, than to get caught up with her.Several direct and indirect references to whore houses. Extended discussion comparing between 2 houses, including one that has ‘5 girls’ but also has chairs in case a guy ‘doesn’t want a flop’. In both Spark and Cliff notes, specifically refers to whorehouse where the book does not name it."
05/24/2018 Pride and Prejudice Austen, Jane Classic 11 - 12
A moderately wealthy family tries to get their daughters married, which in that society is done based on money, looks, and conversational prowess (in that order). Entire book revolves around being in love for purpose of marriage. Primary character seems to have ‘good sense’, yet she misjudges men who are potential marriage candidates; the one she deems most suitable, turns out to be a gambling, irresponsible cad, and the one who is clearly arrogant and uncaring, turns out to (apparently) be giving and gentlemanly.
Divorce/Dysfunctional Families
Unhappy marriage depicted- husband basically makes fun of wife (who is quite shallow) and removes himself from taking responsibility for his family until the end when he admits he was wrong (about the responsibility, not the making fun).
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Characters of both genders meet and talk at many dinners, and at balls at which they dance with people they are not married to, including other people’s spouses. Some non-romantic negiah. This being the leisure class, neither men nor women seem to do anything of consequence other than talk, visit, and entertain. Youngest daughter scandalizes family by eloping with formerly mentioned cad; they live together for 2 weeks and seem to have no intent to marry, until they are bribed to do so. This shame she has brought on the family does not prevent the marriage of 2 other daughters to higher-class husbands.
Religion/Hashkafa
Passing mention of Xmas.
Language
Old-fashioned usage of modern terms: Making love = speaking lovingly; Sex = gender; Gay = happy
05/24/2018 Pudd'nhead Wilson Twain, Mark Classic 9 - 12
Negro slave and free heir are switched as infants. Language: Hell (formal). True slave son asks slave mother who his father was - she proudly tells him he was an honorable white man. Some violence: duels, a murder by knife.
02/01/2019 Pygmalion (Penguin Classics Edition) Shaw, Bernard 10 - 12
Play is based on a myth about a statue brought to life. Famous play, "My Fair Lady" is based on this. A professor of languages and his friend take in a lower class flower seller and turn her into an upper-class woman. Many inferences that it is inappropriate for two single men to take in a woman to live with them. Nothing happens, but there is a certain amount of tension as the viewer/reader hopes that she and the professor will marry. In the end, she marries a man who was wooing her for a long time. When the play was first presented the line "not bloody likely" was deemed to be very inappropriate. The introduction to this edition says that in order to "restore the shock value" the line was changed to a very inappropriate (for the time) "Move your bloomin arse!!!". The introduction also discusses the interplay between the male and female leads and compares their relationship and attraction or lack of attraction to the romantic relationship between the female lead and her boyfriend. Introduction ends by once again comparing the play to the myth where eh "dresses adn undresses his ivory statue, caressing her naked limbs".Act One: p 9-Church is used as shelter from the rainp 13- Shut upp19- damnationAct 2p29- Man instructs servant to burn girl's clothes. She is shocked and says she is not a gentleman to talk of such things- she is a "good girl". He tells her she shouldn't show "prudery" if she is to learn to behave like a duchess.'p36- Servant explains to girl why she needs to bathe "You know you can't be a nice girl inside if your're a dirty slut outside"p38- damnedp40- damnablyp47- discussion about man living with women he isn't married to "lawfully"Act 3p54- Man discusses the girl with his mother. Reassures her it isn't a "love affair", much to her disappointment.p57-damn itp59- women with single son "devours her with her eyes". Son is "infatuated" with her. (Later on becomes her boyfriend)p63- damnedp72- people think the girl is an illegitimate princessAct 4p75- damnedp80- damnedp82- boy "smothers girl with kisses" until a policeman comesp83- damn itAct 5p90- blastedp95- damnedp96- man finally marries woman he has been living withp102- damn
05/24/2018 Rascal North, Sterling Problematic 7 - 12
Teen
Several passages with problematic hashkafa questions re: good and evil (p. 128), age of Earth (p. 92). Short version of x-mas story (p. 174). J-- name for G-d (p. 121). Excellent book, classic - may be worth blacking out offending passages
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Title, Author
Review Date 05/24/2018 A Connecticut Yankee - The Library of America Edition Twain, Mark
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
" A very satirical tongue-in-cheek story about an 18th century man who finds himself in King Arthur's court and tries to modernize them. A lot of direct criticism of the power of the Catholic Church, but not criticism of religion in general. The man unwillingly goes on a quest with a fair maiden sitting on the horse behind him - eventually he marries her. Description of wives kissing husbands before they are killed, and women suckling newborns before they are burned at the stake. Some anatomy detailed. Somewhat vague references to the queen being unfaithful to the king."
Review Date 05/24/2018 A Little Princess Burnett, Frances Hodgson
Grades: 5 - 8
Acceptable
Beautiful classic about a little rich girl in a boarding school. When her father dies she is treated as a servant until she is discovered by father's old friend.
Review Date 05/24/2018 A Long Walk To Water Park, LInda Sue
Grades: 6 - 8
Generally Acceptable
A story set in the war torn Sudan told from the perspective of an orphaned boy forced by war to run to a refugee camp, and a girl more than 20 years later who has to walk very far to get disease ridden drinking water for her family. Ultimately, the boy immigrates to the USA and creates an organization that helps the girl's village dig a lifesaving well.
Religion/Hashkafa
Man speaks about his cause in churches. No religion.
Violence
Sensitively written, but the horrible conditions are quite stark and the boy watches his uncle shot by enemies.
Review Date 05/24/2018 A Passage To India Forster, E.M.
Grades: 10 - 12
Classic
Novel focuses on race relations between the natives of India and the British officials and their wives who are stationed in India. Plot revolves around an attempted assault on a British young woman. An Indian doctor is accused of the crime and sides are drawn between the accusers and the accused.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A constant discussion of mistresses, brothels, impropriety, being attracted or not attracted to a specific kind of girl, calling a girl a prude, commenting on her lack of prominent anatomy, thinking about relations with other gender (not stated so politely), contemplating about what lies to tell to get away to have relations with a woman in a different city,man asks bachelor if he has any illegitimate children,thinking if it is snobbery to only want to have relations with beautiful women, question if there was any impropriety when a man offered a woman housing in his college, etc. Men and women shake hands. Young couple decides not to get engaged for excellent reasons, but when their car is in a minor accident her hand accidentally touches his “ and one of the thrills so frequent in the animal kingdom passed between them, and announced that all their difficulties were only a lovers’ quarrel.” and more of the same.
Religion/Hashkafa
Highly detailed description of Hinduism (seems like straight out avodah zarah)- pages and pages of minutely detailed practices and beliefs, religious songs with explanations, discussions of belief in gods, festival, temple,alter, etc. Some details about Islam and Christianity as well- mosques, missionaries, beliefs, G-d is referred to as Jeh--a, etc.. Discussions of atheism, does one truly believe in heaven, changing religious beliefs etc.Mention of prehistoric ocean.A lot of cigarette smoking. Towards the end of the book one sentence blames India’s problems on the Jews.
Language
Language- damn/damned (multiple times), stupid/ stupidity, blast, idiot, nigger.
Review Date 05/24/2018 A Single Shard Park, Linda Sue
Grades: 6 - 8
Generally Acceptable
A Newberry Medal book that is acceptable! A Korean orphan who lives under a bridge with a kind vagrant, becomes an apprentice to a master potter and is eventually adopted by him when his friend dies. At end of book, excerpts of 2 books by same author - "See Saw Girl" and "The Kite Fighters".
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
One word mention of King's concubines - no explanation.
Religion/Hashkafa
A lot of Korean culture but very little religion beyond description of monks helping people and giving presents on Buddha's birthday.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Adventures & Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Doyle, Arthur Conan
Grades: 7 - 10
Generally Acceptable
Teen
Description of opium & casual cocaine use, "aversion to women"
Review Date 05/24/2018 All of a Kind Family Taylor, Sydney
Grades: 4 - 6
Problematic
Historical Fiction. Jewish girls growing up in the Lower East Side. Jewish content somewhat accurate. Jewish girl has crush on non-Jewish peddler- she is awkward around him and blushes. She is sad when she finds out he has a "sweetheart" he is trying to locate. She imagines when he finds his sweetheart "he will take her in his arms..." When he does really find her he kisses her. Mention of unreviewed book by title- "Peter and Polly In Winter". Brief , unimportant mentions of old fashioned undergarments. Oldest girl dresses up in boy's clothing for Purim.Children read St. Nicholas" magazine. Mixed swimming at the beach (illustration of coed beach scene in old fashioned bathing suits) . Family seems to eat purchased food (eg candy, ice cream, hot pretzel, etc.) without worrying about kashrus- but not stated clearly. Language- heck (p113), freak. It may be a classic, but...
Review Date 05/24/2018 Around the World in 80 Days- Great Illustrated Classics edition Verne, Jules
Grades: 4 - 6
Problematic
A greatly abridged version of classic story of man and his servant who travel around the world in 80 days in order to win a bet. Save a woman who is slated to be burned as "a human sacrifice to the gods", end up "falling in love" and marrying. Black and white illustration of her wearing sleeveless top. Illustration of women hugging man when she is relieved he returned safely. Illustration of man holding woman's hand when he proposes. Language - stupid (once)
Review Date 05/24/2018 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Dahl, Roald
Grades: 5 - 7
Generally Acceptable
Poor boy is selected to go on fantastic chocolate factory tour. Minor language. Mr. Wonka is insulting to other adults. Very tongue in cheek.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Chasing Vermeer Balliett, Blue
Grades: 6 - 8
Questionable
A convoluted and strange mystery/puzzle book where children try to locate a stolen work of art. P 33 - juvenile rhyme about boy and girl stuck in closet together. A few mentions in passing of art in museum being paintings of ladies in "too tight dresses" or "naked people" - easy to cross out. Talk of supernatural and if coincidences are real. Some kids will love the book and some won't get it.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Cheaper by the Dozen Gilbreth Jr., Frank B. and Ernestine Carey
Grades: 6 - 9
Classic
Adventures of a family with 12 children. A lot of minor bad language: heck, damned, bloody bastards, g-damn, JC (as curse), freaks, sucker, and more. Inconclusive, vague discussion about "flowers and bees" and where babies come from - leaves kids wondering. A few vague allusions to "women of the night" and "loose women" but never explained. Family tricks ladies who are looking for a home to hold a meeting for "Society for Birth Control". Lots of talk of being sad since baby will be last child (reader wonders - how do they know?). Lots of juvenile, old fashioned, boy/girl courting among high schoolers. Girls convince father to let them be modern and wear bobbed haircuts, silk stockings, short skirts and short underwear. Father eventually gives in to everything but makeup and perfume. Talk about collegiate boys and girls "petting", "necking", and "jazzing".
Review Date 05/24/2018 Cricket and the Crackerbox Kid Ferguson, Alane
Grades: 4 - 6
Problematic
A lonely rich girl risks friendship with poor boy over ownership of a dog. Cattiness and bad middos of other rich kids described in detail. Not a romantic friendship but other kids tease and make kissing sounds when they are together. 160-161 a few lines of x-mas hymns. Other x-mas stuff mentioned without religion.
Review Date 05/24/2018 David Copperfield Dickens, Charles
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
(Pages refer to Penguin Classics Edition).A typical (long) novel of Dickens. An orphan struggles to make it in the world, overcomes cruel circumstances, finds a savior in a eccentric great aunt, eventually becomes a successful author. Lots of intertwined plots and romance of the old fashioned variety. Minor Religion. Refers to friend/girlfriend as a "lover". Old fashioned romantic negiah usually of the soon to be married variety or at dances. Long and detailed description of a marriage between a mature young man and an immature flighty girl and how he made the best of it even though he realized they were not well matched. One story line involves a young girl married to a man many years her senior and everyone's suspicions that she is having an affair with a younger man - turns out to be not true.Describes in detail some adults who treat children cruelly and some who don’t. Lots of youthful crushes, some flirting, some juvenile kissing and mild negiah. Quote about the resurrection – p. 142 chap 9.. Black and white illustration of women nursing a baby – somewhat detailedLanguage – stupid, drat (p 120 chap 8) For C___ sake (p 345 chap 22)One important story line about an upper class boy who seduces a lower class girl who is engaged to someone else and they run away together until he abandons her. She is so ashamed she moves to Australia.Penguin Classics Edition- IntroductionP. xxii – reference to home for “fallen women” - prostitutes in AustraliaCliff’s NotesOverall, much more subtle than usual but a few problems. Reviews a few of boy’s childhood crushes clearly noting a kiss (eg chapters 9-10) and co-ed dancing (chapters 17-18). Alludes to a character as being a “fallen woman” but doesn’t explain. Describes how she “flirts” because the one she really loves is talking to another man (chap 33-34).Chap 47-48 woman wants to commit suicide (not clear in book)Chap 43-44 says author married Catherine Hogarth even though apparently cared more for wife’s sister.Spark NotesOverall, not much more problematic than the book itself, but uses different labels for things that are problematic – eg, says a character is suspected of having an “affair” with her cousin. No mention of prostitution.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Death Be Not Proud Gunther, John
Grades: 10 - 12
Classic
Novel takes the reader through a father’s perspective of his teenage boy’s fatal illness that eventually leads to his death. le you live, then die and be done with”. These types of religious discussions permeate the entire book. For his funeral they had a rabbi and a priest conduct a joint service. The rabbi read the “Unbeliever’s Prayer” aloud. This book is set during World War II, so much of the medical information is outdated.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Boy is worried that he won’t know how to dance at the senior prom. Likes a certain girl- speaks to her on the phone, says his temperature goes up when he sees her, but he is so sick that nothing comes of it. When doctor wants to put him on a regime of hormones he says “Look out or you’ll make a s-- maniac of me”
Religion/Hashkafa
There are a number of religious issues. The parents (who are divorced) seem to be Christians, but later it is explained that the mother is Jewish. There is a lot of talk of G-d and if one should believe in Him and how to believe in Him. Boy goes to a Christian school, and when he is home his mother conducts church services at home and read “The Bible of the World, The Old Testament and the New, The Prophets and J, also Buddha, Confucius, and Mahomet…” The mother says of G-d that though He stood by her, “in all His onmipotence, was helpless too (C”V)” To her, life is a series of mutations that G-d is also subject to. The boy himself was sometimes an atheist and sometimes an agnostic and wrote a prayer called the “Unbelievers Prayer” which is written out in its entirety- twice- basically doubting G-d’s existence. According to him “G-d is what’s good in me”. His philosophy- “Live, while you live, then die and be done with”. These types of religious discussions permeate the entire book. For his funeral they had a rabbi and a priest conduct a joint service. The rabbi read the “Unbeliever’s Prayer” aloud. Brief mentions of xmas, presents, carols.
Language
Language- hell (twice), G-- damn it (once) damn (once)
TV, Movies, Rock Music, Internet and other Media
Many mentions of going to the movies, movies by name, books by name.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Dibs in Search of Self Axline, Virginia
Grades: 10 - 12
Classic
Teen
True account of a brilliant and apparently autistic boy, with emotionally distant and abusive parents, who is successfully treated using play therapy. Nicely done, although somewhat outdated, since a) diagnosis of autism had not been established, b) boy is ‘cured’ quickly over a few months, and c) reinforces the idea popular at the time, that autism was caused by ‘refrigerator parents’. Woman offers another person a cigarette.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Mother says that boy’s conception was an accident; they had not intended to have any children.
Religion/Hashkafa
Some childish discussion of G-d, church and religion - Christian based but without mention of JC. Mention of St. Francis of Assissi, Saint of the animals.
Language
Word ‘gay’ used to mean ‘happy’.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Emma Bronte, Charlotte and "Another Lady"
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
(see also book by Jane Austin with the same title). A young girl abandoned at a boarding school is adopted by a single man and woman who try to find out her identity and eventually marry. Mentions of going to church, sitting in pews, catechism, confirmation, etc.. Celebration of xmas- gifts, charity. Detailed descriptions of young woman’s miserable marriage to an older man whose stepchildren refused to have any sort of relationship with her. Alot of wondering as to who real father of a baby is. Chapt 4 pg. 31- “joyful on xmas day becuase we celebrate the birthday of our savior, the lord jc”. Chapt 5 pg 47-48 priest speaks of G-d “as the fountain of light, life, truth, love, peace and joy”and pour out his glory through jc. Chapt7 pg 68- hellish. Chapt 7 pg 69- no witch could have power over a good christian child. Chapt 8 pg 86- a baby born dead can not be buried in consecrated ground of churchyard since it isn’t christian. Chapt 10 pg 97- woman worries that a man wants to progress beyond their platonic friendship, but she is afraid since her first marriage was so miserable.Chapt 10 pg 102- girl wrote a story based on the truth- two women who were in love with the same gentleman fought a duel and one shot the others finger off. Man refused to marry either one of them. Chapt 12 pg 136- list of books by title and author recommended for a man to read in order to study to be a priest.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Ender's Game Card, Orson Scott
Grades: 8 - 11
Classic
Boy genius saves the world from aliens. Language, male anatomy. Other books in series are very inappropriate for children.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Ethan Frome Wharton, Edith
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
(Page numbers refer to Enriched Classic Pocket Books Edition)A man is in an unhappy marriage falls in love with a cousin who is living in his house to help his sickly wife. He imagines being with her but in the end he can’t be unfaithful to his wife so they try to unsuccessfully try to commit suicide together.Introduction-pVIII-author had an unhappy marriage and had a “passionate love affair” for three years. pX-author’s husband committed “infidelities” pXIII-women who didn’t end up marrying had to either work in a factory or become prostitutes.First chapter-l p12-hell P14-mention of church (as a landmark)Chapter I-p24-38-married man stands outside church watching a coed dance and dreams of being with a single girlchapter II-p47-he puts his arms around her p52-he thinks about kissing herchapter III-p58-he thinks about being alone in the house with her for the night while his wife is awaychapter IV-p67-man interrupts engaged couple kissingchapter VIII-p108-110-considers leaving his wife and running away with the girl he loveschapter IX-p135-they kissnotes on the book-p152-Greek mythology p153-prostitution p160-virgincritical excerpts-p169-extramarital liason, sexual passion p174-sexual maturity suggestions for interested reader-p181-182-brief reviews of novels which may or may not be appropriate
Review Date 05/24/2018 Frankenstein Shelley, Mary
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
"(Pages below, and comments regarding introduction, refer to Penguin Classics Edition)A classic tale which is often much distorted in modern culture. A young man discovers the secret of creating life and succeeds in creating a monstrous being. He later regrets his creation. The monster eventually takes revenge on his creator by killing all the people his creator cares for. In this edition the front and back covers depict an unclothed man which is really stark and should probably be covered with a book cover.The introduction is highly problematic in detailing in a painstaking fashion the immoral lifestyle of the author. It also goes into very deep philosophical discussions about the nature of creation and various philosophical belief systems.Other than the premise that man can give life and create a living and thinking being there is little else problematic.Vol.I. Chapt V p 59-man imagines embracing a girl (his future bride) and a “kiss on the lips” but she dies in his arms.Chapt VI p69-d-n the fellowVol II chapt.V p123-old man kisses and embraces his son’s fiancé Chapt.VII p 132-brief discussion about book “Paradise Lost”- “An omnipotent G-d warring with his creatures…”A few mentions of hell implying a terrible experience- chap V p60, Chapt VIII p89, vol ll chapt. VIII p138, vol.III chapt VII pg 206The appendix and notes in the back of the book were not reviewed as of yet."
Review Date 05/24/2018 Frindle Clements, Andrew
Grades: 3 - 5
Generally Acceptable
Boy tests out rules of language by coining a new word. Undertone of lack of respect for adults and authority, and message that kids know best.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Goody Hall Babbit, Natalie
Grades: 5 - 8
Questionable
A boy is raised in luxury by his mother, after his father is reported dead, but the the boy suspects that he is alive. With the help of a friendly tutor, the boy solves the mystery of his family. Well written, unusual story. Language: Gates of Hell; man rides horse "hell for leather". Mentions of Hercules (tutor's namesake) and his "Twelve Labors" from Greek mythology. At end of book. tutor kisses dour housekeeper on the forehead - not out of feelings for her, but out of happiness about the turn of events.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Gulliver's Travels Swift, Jonathan
Grades: 8 - 10
Classic
Satirical commentary on human nature about adventures of an Englishman's voyage. Lots of bathroom references, religious references, and procreation references which are wholly inappropriate but written in such sophisticated and ironical language that a child reading this story for adventure may miss it. However, an older child reading it carefully (i.e. for school) will encounter all sorts of unacceptable descriptions.
Review Date 06/11/2018 Hard Times Dickens, Charles
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
(Page numbers refer to Penguin Classics Edition)This novel is set in nineteenth century industrial England. A factory worker is set up by a rich boy to be falsely accused of robbing a bank (to cover up his own crime). A father learns that his system of rational education (utilitarianism) is faulty when his logical daughter who marries for practical reasons is seduced by a family friend and she doesn’t know how to handle it (nothing actually happens, but the gradual, well planned out road to the seduction is detailed quite clearly). Detailed description of drunken mother who mistreats her young son- turns out to be a lie much later in the book(chapt 4 pg 60)Notes at the front of the book- author fell “passionately in love” with a girl. Later married someone else and seperated from her and “befriended” a young actress “who may have become his mistress”. Mentions of novels and authors. Brief mention that park admission was free except during hours of church service. A number of mentions that circus women were not “at all particular in respect of showing their legs”. A lot of smoking and drinking throughout the novel.notes at the back of the book- Book 1 Chapter 5- discusses laws to make people religious by force. Baptism was withheld from unwed mothers until she got a letter from her employer “testifying to her previous good character, her shame, and capacity for hard work”
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A man’s wife becomes a drunkard who lives on the streets, but he is not allowed to divorce her, so he conducts a chaste love affair with another woman.Asks if there is a law that would punish him if he lived with her without marrying her (since he is not allowed to marry her)- there is such a law. A lot of minor negiah- kisses on the cheek, men kiss girl goodbye, woman lightly lays her hand on man’s arm, woman kisses man’s hand, when man is trying to seduce married women puts his arm around her and “embraces” her- she sits frozen.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many brief mentions of going to church service, church bells.Man dreams of having wedding in church.
Language
Man falls down a hole called “Hell shaft”Language- idiot, stupid, ass (pg 205book 2 chapt.7), damned (pg 212 book 2 chapt 8) for C-----’s sake (pg 290 book 3 chapt. 6). Book 1 Chapter 15- efforts were damned
Review Date 05/24/2018 Heidi Spyri, Johanna
Grades: 4 - 6
Generally Acceptable
Classic story of girl brought up on mountain by eccentric grandfather. Good midos. Many minor religious references - pretty neutral, ie "higher being": pages 124, 192, 263, 277
Review Date 06/12/2018 Hiroshima Hersey, John
Grades: 10 - 12
Classic
Novel follows the lives of a few survivors of the nuclear attack on Japan.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
.”Many mentions of people in their underwear when blast hit, man finding blood in his underwear because he had kidney stones. Mention that reproductive processes were affected- “men became sterile...menstruation stopped.” Mention of women bringing babies to orphanages because the fathers were American soldiers. Sometimes fathers tracked down the mothers of their babies and married them. Mention of Japanese prostitutes. Father teaches son to dance, takes him to a dance hall introduces him to a girl and tells her to be gentle with him.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many mentions of priests, church and religion but always in a detached, news reporter fashion. Jesuits, Catholics, priests, minister, theological students, nuns, monks, zen, relatively neutral prayers read, mass, bible classes, communion, constant trying to convert people. One of the survivors is from the Society of J----. Women asks priest “If your G-d is so good and kind how can he let people suffer like this?” Priest answers “man is not now in the condition G-d intended. He has fallen from grace through sin. Description of a shrine dedicated to spirits of those killed in wars.
Violence
Very detailed and graphic descriptions throughout this novel of horrific injuries and death caused by the radiation.
TV, Movies, Rock Music, Internet and other Media
TV
Review Date 05/24/2018 Johnny Tremain Forbes, Esther
Grades: 6 - 9
Questionable
Historical fiction. Set in Boston, Revolutionary War. An orphan gets involved with the Patriots. Ongoing subtle love story runs throughout the novel but not integral focus.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Julius Ceasar Shakespeare, William
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
"(Pages below, and comments regarding introduction, refer to The Folger Library General Reader’s Shakespeare)Introduction, page 19 – Shakespeare was married hastily and daughter was born 6 months later.Introduction, page 22 – Shakespeare’s daughter married under “somewhat scandalous circumstances”.When Julius Caesar, member of the Roman senate, seems to be seeking the crown, he is killed by a group that includes one of his friends. Another friend avenges his death. Use of the words “damned” and “hell” in their proper usages.Act 2, Scene 1 (line 300) – Wife states that if husband won’t share his concerns with her, she is like a harlot and not a wife.Act 5, Scene 4 – bastard used in non-specific usage"
Review Date 05/24/2018 Little House in the Big Woods Wilder, Laura Ingalls
Grades: 3 - 5
Problematic
Little girls growing up in a log cabin. Slaughter of animals described in painstaking detail. X-mas described in detail. Sunday described in detail - kids will draw parallel to Shabbos (lehavdil). Bedtime prayer - "now I lay me down'. Co-ed dance - illustration of men and women dancing. Can tear out pages.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Little House On The Prairie Wilder, Laura Ingalls
Grades: 3 - 5
Problematic
Classic story of a family that moves west. Girl asks parents if dogs go to heaven-father answers” yes, G-d wouldn’t leave a good dog out in the cold”. A full chapter on xmas and girls hope of Santa Claus bringing her presents. Very warm and fuzzy description of the holiday. Father sings song about angels and saints (p170). Brief unimportant mention of women’s undergarments. Description of “naked” Indians. Some scary moments when cabin is surrounded by wolves and when fear Indians will “massacre” (never defined but implication is clear).
Review Date 05/24/2018 Little Lord Fauntleroy Burnett, Frances Hodgson
Grades: 5 - 8
Generally Acceptable
A little boy raised in a simple way by his American mother, suddenly finds out he is a lord and must go to England to live with his rich, crotchety grandfather. Innocent comments about liking to look at girls (p. 102 chapter 6). Description of church service - kneeling and folding hands in prayer - no heavy religion (p. 134-135, chap. 7). Drawn out description of a beautiful woman who all the men fawn over,seen through a young boy's eyes (p. 176-177 ch. 10; p 234 chap 15)
Review Date 05/24/2018 Little Women Alcott, Louisa May
Grades: 6 - 9
Classic
4 sisters grow up together, fall in love, and marry, except for one who dies young. Very religious family – father is a minister.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A lot of old fashioned boy/girl, many dances described, talk of flirting. Eg p. 300-301 (part 2 chap 32) a lot of platonic boy/girl and questions if platonic relationship can turn into romantic love and then back to platonic again a lot of negiah. Some affectionate between “friends”, some mildly romantic, a lot unclear eg: p. 171-172 (part 1 chap 18) p. 210 (part 1 chap 23) p. 233 (part 1 chap 25) p 390-391 (part 2 chap 41) p. 439 (part 2 chap 46)A lot of courting leading to marriage which includes mild negiah.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many references to religion but not explained clearly – eg many mentions of “Pilgrim’s Progress” and trying to reach the “celestial city” by being good, eg p 10-11 (part 1 chapter 1), p. 132 (part 1 chapter 13)a lot of x-mas presents, santa claus, being good on x-mas. E.g. p. 3 (part 1 chapter 4), entire chapter 2 (part 1)Talk of heavenly father p. 77 (part 1 chap 8)crosses and rosaries – p. 178-179 (part 1 chap 19)JC – p. 184 (part 1 chap 20 ). Madonna and child and x-mas – p 202 (part 1 chap 22). Hymn – p. 206 (part 1 chap 22)
Review Date 05/24/2018 Lord of the Flies Golding, William
Grades: -
Classic
A group of boys are marooned on a desert isle without adults, and try to form some semblance of society, but instead revert to being savages and even attacking each other, leading to the death of 2 boys. Discussion potential about man’s essential nature being essentially evil according to author.Biggest issue – in back of book, “Note on Lord of the Flies” goes into great descriptive detail pointing out how the killing of a sow was accomplished as a form of intimacy (not phrased quite this nicely), which is something kids would never pick up on independently (p 206—207)
Language
Lots of shut up Chap 1 p 13 sucks, boy calls asthma “ass-mar” Chap 4 p 74 damn you Chap 6 p 101 sucks Chap 8 p 124 hell; p 135 ass; p 140 ass-mar Chap 10 p 162 ass-mar; p 168 “I hit him in the pills “ (slang for male anatomy).
Review Date 05/24/2018 Master of the World Verne, Jules
Grades: 8 - 9
Generally Acceptable
Teen
A police inspector investigates strange happenings in a mountain and tries to capture an inventor who created a vehicle that can't be stopped by human beings. A bit outdated by modern technology but a fun read with some discussion potential. Many references to the devil but no real religion.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Moby Dick Melville, Herman
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
A crazed captain takes his crew on a whaling voyage to capture the whale who made him lose his leg. Very, very detailed descriptions of whales, their habits, anatomy, how they are killed and how each part of their body is used after death. This review is not complete as some of the chapters were skimmed, not read carefully. Many biblical quotes about whales and other related topics- semi accurate translations. Mentions of the "New Testament". Harpooner worships idols (described) and decends from cannibals. Detailed description of the chapel where they pray and the "father" who preached- sermon detailed in full- retelling of the story of "Jonah and the whale"- somewhat creative version.l. Sailor wonders if there is really a problem with idol worship and ends up concluding that the will of G-d is "to do to my fellow man what I would have my fellow man do to me"- and since he would like the canibal to "unite with him in Presbyterian form of worship" , he should likewise unite with him in his idolatry- so he joins him in worshiping his idol- said in a humorous fashion. Use of JC last name as a curse. Sailor ends up sharing bed with harpooner- in his sleep he threw his arm around him in a "bridegroom clasp", compared them to a man and wife and called them a "cozy loving pair"- all of this humorous (written at a time when 2 men married was a joke) .One word xmas. Brief mention of "nakedness" of native "dancing girls". Language- be damned/damn/dam/damndest (frequent), hell, blast,
Review Date 05/24/2018 My Antonia Cather, Willa
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
P36-38-story of 2 men who were driving a bride and groom. Men threw the couple to the wolves to lighten the wagon to save themselves. IX-p42-singing in church P47-christian people often forget “they were her brother’s keepers” XI-p48-52-xmas described-gifts, tree, story of 3 kings and baby in manger (not told in great detail), father reads chapter in St. Mathew about the birth of JC, prayers, man makes sign of the cross XIV-p51-60-old man commits suicide- described vividly. People say he is in purgatory.XV-p61-the family wants a priest to “pray over him”man says we believe you don’t need a priest because “JC is our only intercessor” P62-boy helps priest at the alter, first communion, vessels of the “holy sacrament” XVI-p67-family makes sign of the cross on the dead body P68- sing hymn- “JC lover of my soul” XVII-p70- “he not JC” P71-girl takes boy’s hand- affectionate, not romantic XVIII-p72-74-minor violence P77-woman kisses man’s hand out of gratefulnessBook IIIV-p92-92-detailed description of married man who enjoyed being with single girlVI-p98-woman believes that JC was born in BohemiaVII-p105- mixed dancingVIII-p108- dittoIX-p109-112 (whole chapter)- description of the dynamics of boy/girl relationshipsX-p113- girl slaps soon to be married (to someone else) man when he tries to kiss herXII-p122-mixed dancing, boy wants to kiss girlXIV-p130-girl flirts with boy- runs fingers through his hairXV-p134-135-man unsuccessfully tries to rape girl- not stated explicitly but clearly understoodBook IIIIV-p156-157-girl explains why doesn’t want to marry P157- brief kiss P158- dittoBook IVBeginning of book IV, especially chapter III- description of how woman had illegitimate baby- states clearly that she never married baby’s father.Book VII-p188-boy describes how he and his father (married) danced with femalesExplanatory notesP208 -209- JCP216- man impregnated hired girlsP221- greek mythology, hellP222- woman should agree to be man’s mistress
Review Date 05/24/2018 Of Mice and Men Steinbeck, John
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
"2 men, George and Lennie, work as itinerant farm laborers; Lennie is very mentally challenged, and is also very strong. Lennie unintentionally gets into trouble when he hurts or kills animals or people. Once he touched a girl’s dress and he couldn’t let go, and she accused him of rape. At the end of the book, he accidentally kills a man’s wife, and George kills him to prevent him from being lynched.A lot of strong language, including hell, damn, bitch, bastard, JC (as curse).Wife of boss’s son is flirtatious and tries to get attention from farm workers. Men call her a tart and say she is bait for jail. Man comments that it is preferable for a man to go to a whorehouse and get everything out of his system all at once, than to get caught up with her.Several direct and indirect references to whore houses. Extended discussion comparing between 2 houses, including one that has ‘5 girls’ but also has chairs in case a guy ‘doesn’t want a flop’. In both Spark and Cliff notes, specifically refers to whorehouse where the book does not name it."
Review Date 05/24/2018 Pride and Prejudice Austen, Jane
Grades: 11 - 12
Classic
A moderately wealthy family tries to get their daughters married, which in that society is done based on money, looks, and conversational prowess (in that order). Entire book revolves around being in love for purpose of marriage. Primary character seems to have ‘good sense’, yet she misjudges men who are potential marriage candidates; the one she deems most suitable, turns out to be a gambling, irresponsible cad, and the one who is clearly arrogant and uncaring, turns out to (apparently) be giving and gentlemanly.
Divorce/Dysfunctional Families
Unhappy marriage depicted- husband basically makes fun of wife (who is quite shallow) and removes himself from taking responsibility for his family until the end when he admits he was wrong (about the responsibility, not the making fun).
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Characters of both genders meet and talk at many dinners, and at balls at which they dance with people they are not married to, including other people’s spouses. Some non-romantic negiah. This being the leisure class, neither men nor women seem to do anything of consequence other than talk, visit, and entertain. Youngest daughter scandalizes family by eloping with formerly mentioned cad; they live together for 2 weeks and seem to have no intent to marry, until they are bribed to do so. This shame she has brought on the family does not prevent the marriage of 2 other daughters to higher-class husbands.
Religion/Hashkafa
Passing mention of Xmas.
Language
Old-fashioned usage of modern terms: Making love = speaking lovingly; Sex = gender; Gay = happy
Review Date 05/24/2018 Pudd'nhead Wilson Twain, Mark
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
Negro slave and free heir are switched as infants. Language: Hell (formal). True slave son asks slave mother who his father was - she proudly tells him he was an honorable white man. Some violence: duels, a murder by knife.
Review Date 02/01/2019 Pygmalion (Penguin Classics Edition) Shaw, Bernard
Grades: 10 - 12
Play is based on a myth about a statue brought to life. Famous play, "My Fair Lady" is based on this. A professor of languages and his friend take in a lower class flower seller and turn her into an upper-class woman. Many inferences that it is inappropriate for two single men to take in a woman to live with them. Nothing happens, but there is a certain amount of tension as the viewer/reader hopes that she and the professor will marry. In the end, she marries a man who was wooing her for a long time. When the play was first presented the line "not bloody likely" was deemed to be very inappropriate. The introduction to this edition says that in order to "restore the shock value" the line was changed to a very inappropriate (for the time) "Move your bloomin arse!!!". The introduction also discusses the interplay between the male and female leads and compares their relationship and attraction or lack of attraction to the romantic relationship between the female lead and her boyfriend. Introduction ends by once again comparing the play to the myth where eh "dresses adn undresses his ivory statue, caressing her naked limbs".Act One: p 9-Church is used as shelter from the rainp 13- Shut upp19- damnationAct 2p29- Man instructs servant to burn girl's clothes. She is shocked and says she is not a gentleman to talk of such things- she is a "good girl". He tells her she shouldn't show "prudery" if she is to learn to behave like a duchess.'p36- Servant explains to girl why she needs to bathe "You know you can't be a nice girl inside if your're a dirty slut outside"p38- damnedp40- damnablyp47- discussion about man living with women he isn't married to "lawfully"Act 3p54- Man discusses the girl with his mother. Reassures her it isn't a "love affair", much to her disappointment.p57-damn itp59- women with single son "devours her with her eyes". Son is "infatuated" with her. (Later on becomes her boyfriend)p63- damnedp72- people think the girl is an illegitimate princessAct 4p75- damnedp80- damnedp82- boy "smothers girl with kisses" until a policeman comesp83- damn itAct 5p90- blastedp95- damnedp96- man finally marries woman he has been living withp102- damn
Review Date 05/24/2018 Rascal North, Sterling
Grades: 7 - 12
Problematic
Teen
Several passages with problematic hashkafa questions re: good and evil (p. 128), age of Earth (p. 92). Short version of x-mas story (p. 174). J-- name for G-d (p. 121). Excellent book, classic - may be worth blacking out offending passages