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."

Filter results
×
Title, Author
Review Date Title Author Rating Grades Teen Comments
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
05/24/2018 Rebecca Du Maurier. Daphne Classic -
(Page numbers refer to Harper Edition)A young orphaned woman marries a wealthy widow much older than herself and of a much higher class than herself, and feels unable to compete with the memory of his first wife until the truth comes out- the first wife was unfaithful (told in a very straightforward manner- impossible to miss)- She often invited men to a cabin (after she was married) and they “made love to her” and then she laughed at them and made fun of them. It was a “game” to her to make men jealous and to seduce untouchable men including her brother in law. She was also extremely cruel. The husband finally murdered her (reader feels very sympathetic toward the murderer after reading about the wife’s behavior).Constant cigarette smoking. At the end of the book there is an author’s note- author says she wrote this book imagining how jealous she would feel if her husband had been married previously.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Their brief courtship described in detail- they accidentally met in a hotel and when the woman she was with took sick, they spent days together, the girl lying about what she was doing. He proposes to her in a very matter of fact way, then apologizes for proposing like that saying that instead he should (pg. 54) “make violent love to you behind a palm tree...never mind, I’ll take you to Venice for the honeymoon and we’ll hold hands in the gondola.” . After they are married she worries often and in detail -if they are happy together, if he loves her, if he is comparing her to his first wife, whether he still loved his first wife, etc. Detailed descriptions of husband kissing wife “hungry, desperate, feverishly, etc.” . The first wife’s cousin appears a number of times in the novel- he is of loose morals and admits that he had an affair with the first wife (they were “lovers”), he flirts with the second wife, he is often drunk, he tries to blackmail the husband, etc. Husband’s sister tells bride that she hopes she is doing nothing to prevent having a baby. An important setting is a fancy dress ball- descriptions of coed dancing and flirting- nothing terribly romantic. At the end of the ball the men and women hold hands and stand in a circle singing the last song.
Religion/Hashkafa
Occasional unimportant mentions of bishop and his wife, churches, Christian creed, man uses JC as a curse, being buried in the crypt in the church.
Language
Very frequent use of words damn/ damned/ damnably and hell- sometimes more than once on a page (even three or four times on a page), especially the middle to the end of the novel. A lot of minor language: idiotic/ idiot, stupidity/ stupid, shut up, blasted, ass.
05/24/2018 Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Wiggin, Kate Douglas Questionable 4 - 7
Classic story of a poor girl who comes to live with her spinster aunts and ends up coming to appreciate them, and they her. Novel follows her as she grows up always backed by an older single man- not overtly romantic but might end up that way in a future book. Some classics mentioned by title. Many mentions of church and Sunday school. Girl writes a poem about “seraphim” angels, goes to a missionary meeting, hymn singing, an actual hymn written out (p181-182), hymn “J. should reign” (not written out p 183), girl makes up a prayer –relatively innocuous, many mentions of xmas presents. During the war one of the aunts was engaged and her fiancé was injured so she went to nurse him and “hold his hand through hours of pain” and he died “in her arms”. Mention of boys and girls mingling, boys carrying books for girls, “flirtations”, and “school girl romances” but none of it described in detail. Girl wishes she could wear gowns with low necks that show her shoulders. Humorous description of a family with a father who is in and out of jail and mother not really around to raise them, leading to a dysfunctional household. Language- stupid, consarned, idiot.
05/24/2018 Robinson Crusoe Defoe, Daniel Classic -
(Pages refer to Bantam Classic Edition). A classic story of a man who is shipwrecked on a desert island and manages to survive. The biggest issue here is hashkafa. He is raised as a religious Christian but when he runs away to sea against his parent’s wishes he abandons his faith, only regaining it after almost dying on the desert isle. From the time he regains his faith the book goes into minute detail describing his thoughts about G-d and religion. Even more detail when he teaches his slave about Christianity. A lot of it is neutral and even correct, but there is a lot of belief in JC mentioned in very detailed unacceptable ways. However, most children will tend to skip the myriad pages of religious discussion and look for the action in the story. Teachers and parents have to decide if they want to rely on that tendency. Some of the places with hashkafa issues (though book should be previewed in full)Chapter-Pirates-p ll The Journal:Illness- whole chapter The Journal:Recovery- P92 The Journal:Exploring The Island-p100-101 The Journal:Reflections-p115 A Footprint-p139-142 Bones-p149,153-155 Enounter With Savages-p176-177 Friday Observed-p188 Friday Instructed-whole chapter Return To England- p255
05/24/2018 Silas Marner - The Weaver of Raveloe Eliot, George Classic 9 - 12
Pages below refer to Modern Library Classics editionA man is falsely accused of robbery so he leaves his small church based community and his faith in his religion and exiles himself to a small village where he lives an isolated life. Eventually a baby wanders into his house and he is transformed by raising her.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
One of the rich villagers married an "opium addled" woman from a lower class, had a child with her and then regretted it. He hid her away in another town and courted a different lady. When his wife died he happily married the other without telling her or acknowledging the child until many years later. Courtship scenes and dances. Some minor romantic negiah. In Introduction to this edition mentions that author (a woman) eloped with a married man who was her "companion" for 24 years.
Religion/Hashkafa
A good deal of religious discussion including Satan, souls, judgment and disappointment that G-d didn't clear him of a crime when he was falsely accused. A kind woman urges him to go to church on Sundays and not work on that day. Many pages detailing her reasoning (p. 96-100). Mentions JC born on X-mas day.
05/24/2018 Sounder Armstrong, William H. Acceptable 6 - 8
Son of a black sharecropper deals with father's prison sentence (who stole to feed family), and heart wrenching devotion of father's dog. Lots of biblical quotes and thoughts but nothing too objectionable. Sad.
05/24/2018 Stuart Little White, E. B. Generally Acceptable 3 - 5
A mouse born to a human couple runs away to seek his fortune and to find his bird-friend. One chapter about a date (chap 14) with a short girl, that ends in disaster; nothing romantic. Mention of the poem "The Night Before Xmas". One sentence mention of a girl receiving a present from a boy to remember him by (chap 12 p. 98).
05/24/2018 Tale of Two Cities Dickens, Charles Classic 9 - 12
(Pages refer to Bantam classic Edition with an afterward by Stephen Koch) (Bantam classic Edition with an afterward by Stephen Koch)A French nobleman who has moved to England and renounced his heritage, returns home in the middle of the French Revolution, and is sentenced to death by a blood thirsty mob. The afterward in this edition is truly horrific and makes what is not explicit, very explicit, and problems that don’t even seem to exist suddenly appear.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A lot of non-romantic negiah, mostly of the polite variety. Two men want to marry the same woman – the one who doesn’t marry her eventually gives his life to save the one who does. Romantic negiah between husband and wife – p 210 & 211 book 2 chap 20; p 247 book 3 chap 6. A man and woman on the way to be killed become friends and there is some negiah – p 360 book 3 chap 13, p 380 book 3 chap 15. Description of a cruel nobleman raping a woman but not very explicit – chap 10 p 323 .
Religion/Hashkafa
A quote about the resurrection – p. 319 chap 9 book 3, p. 380 chap 15 book 3.
Language
Language – damned (chap 2 book 1 p 7), d-n (with dash) (chap 12 book 2 p 145 & 146, chap 24 book 2 p 241).
Violence
Very gory and violent and detailed descriptions of people put to a violent death for crimes both real and imagined.
05/24/2018 The 13 Clocks Thurber, James Generally Acceptable 8 - 10
Teen
A prince sets out to find jewels so that he can win the princess's hand in marriage, and appease her evil uncle. Written like a children's fairy tale but extremely sophisticated in its play on words and ideas and symbolism. Many children reading this will not get it on their own.
05/24/2018 The Alchemist Coelho, Paulo Classic 11 - 12
A man in ancient Middle East, searches for treasure and his own Personal Legend.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Mild romance, one embrace.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many philosophical concepts, including underlying idea of universal spirituality, ‘Soul of the World’.. (In author’s comments after end of book, he notes his view of universal religion). References that overlap with Jewish concepts: Urim Vetumim (stones used to make a choice), G-d, King of Salem (Melchizedek), Abraham. Biggest issue: story of man who meets ‘rabbi’ who is ‘son of G-d’ - obvious reference to J.C.
05/24/2018 The Birchbark House Erdrich, Louise Questionable 4 - 6
Realistic description of Native Americans. Smallpox epidemic and death discussed very matter of factly. Lots of emphasis on Indian beliefs - needs adult guidance
05/24/2018 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Boyne, John Classic 6 - 8
Unique book written from perspective of fictional son of a concentration camp Commandant. In the book, the son does not fully understand what is going on in the camp, and ends up befriending a child interred there. Although the book is written about a 9-year old, and the language appears to be on a 4-6 grade level, the subtleties of the story line are geared to be understood by older children. Some educators expressed concern that the implication that it was possible for a child of a commandant not to know what was going on, might confuse child readers and make them think it was not so bad after all. We recommend that educators read this book and make a decision for their students, and if read should be read with guidance.
05/24/2018 The Cay Taylor, Theodore Acceptable 6 - 8
A boy is shipwrecked on a deserted island together with an elderly black man. Overcomes prejudices.
05/24/2018 The Chosen Potok, Chaim Not Acceptable N/A
Son of modern ‘enlightened’ Orthodox Jew, befriends son of Chassidic Rebbe in America in the 1940’s. Chassidic boy feels trapped by his father and impending inheritance of the position of Rebbe, and turns to non-Jewish philosophical works provided to him by modern librarian (modern boy’s father). Entire book revolves around denigrating of chassidim in particular, and very religious ‘unenlightened’ Jews in general, as being backwards, closed-minded, superstitious, and unworldly. Father of modern boy holds religious views that would be considered apikorsus, and when he explains himself he sounds extremely educated and logical.
05/24/2018 The City of Ember DuPrau, Jeanne Generally Acceptable 5 - 8
Great story set in underground society with no knowledge of outside world. Implications of world being destroyed by war but never stated outright (may be scary to some kids). Minor non-romantic negiah. Brief mention of liking a boy (p 146 ch 11). Very well written. Some of the other books in this series more problematic, but this book can stand alone.
11/04/2021 The Dawning of the Day: A Jerusalem Tale Sabato, Haim Classic 9 - 12
A Yerushalmi Sephardic man with deep, sincere faith in G-d makes his way through a changing Jerusalem. He is comfortable with many types of people both Sephardi and Ashkenazy, scholar and simple. Many, many references to BIblical and Talmudic commentaries. The author is a Rosh Yeshiva in Maale Adumim.. Although this is a short but slow moving read, there is very little objectionable. The man's brother in law is a scholar at Hebrew University who analyzes medieval Hebrew poetry, but still seems to be a believing man.
05/24/2018 The Devil's Arithmetic Yolen, Jane Classic 5 - 8
A non-frum American girl opens door for Eliyahu Hanavi at seder and is transported to the Holocaust. P. 38 - references but not specific about coming home on wedding night and walls being thin. Girl says she knows what wedding night is because of "General Hospital" (meaning - the soap opera). P 92- female anatomy. P 134 - girl recites Kaddish. P 153 before they are shot groom says to bride "the sky is our wedding canopy" and kisses the top of her head. Language: bastard. Several references to Rabbi saying they should trust in G-d, while some make vaguely cynical comments. Bride and groom hold hands before marriage (when being loaded onto Nazi train). Adult man hugs girl who is his neice. References to some movies, including Yentl.Note to teachers: Movie is different from book: girl is 16, not 13. Movie starts with girl in tattoo parlor with her friend who is getting a navel tattoo. Tame romance between girl and Rabbi’s son in the camp. Scene of woman having baby in camp, shows her bare legs with knees up. Scene of women undressing for gas chamber - bare shoulders; gas chamber with naked bodies piled up (arms, legs, shoulders).
05/24/2018 The Diary of A Young Girl - The Definitive Edition (Doubleday) Frank, Anne Classic 9 - 12
(Pages below refer to Doubleday edition; Journal entry dates included for use with other editions. Note that this edition includes passages not included in earlier editions)The diary of a Jewish girl who struggles with coming of age while in hiding during the Holocaust. Although it's very moving, there are quite a few very clear and explicit passages dealing with boy/girl, negiah, and physical maturation. In addition, girl is very clear about negative feeling toward parents and especially lack of respect for mother. Also sprinkling of hashkafic issues. Not recommended for casual reading. For educators: this book would be difficult to censor sufficiently, but problematic passages are listed below.Forward – page vi Explains how certain passages dealing with sexuality were omitted in the original book but added in this edition.6/15/42 p. 5 – Lists and describes boys who admire Anne, using adjectives such as “a filthy mind”, “girl crazy”, “Absolute flirt”, “has gone all the way”. 6/20/42 p. 10 – Boys give “passionate glances”, blow kisses, take hold of her arm 10/3/42 p. 50 – Teenage girl lay in bed next to an adult man and everyone thought it shocking – her comment – “I would never want to sleep with him the way they mean” 10/3/42 p. 52 – Women sell bodies on the street, menstruation 11/2/42 P. 60 – menstruation 11/10/42 p. 62 – Man lives with a woman – probably not married “but that’s besides the point” 12/7/42 p. 73 – Celebrate St. Nicholas Day and Chanukah together 4/2/43 p. 96 – One example of Anne’s relationship with mom (regular theme throughout) 5/2/43 p. 100 – bra 5/18/43 p. 103 – a single man says to married woman “come into my bed my child”; everyone thinks it’s a grand joke. 10/30/43 p. 140-142 – Anne’s relationship with parents 11/3/43 p. 143 – Jews learning “New” Testament; J. C 1/6/44 p. 161 – menstruation, female anatomy Photo insert, center – teenager in bathing suit 1/6/44 p. 162 – Anne’s ecstatic feeling when sees unclothed female 1/6/44 p. 162-163 – Dreams of negiah 1/7/44 p. 164 – First love 1/7/44 p. 166 – Dreams of negiah 1/24/44 p. 173-176 – Learning about sex – detailed – discusses it with boy 3/2/44 p. 202 – Her attitude that it’s OK to have relations without marriage as long as there is true love. 3/8/44 p. 212 – dreaming of kissing boy 3/18/44 p. 223-324 – her opinions about learning about sex and that it’s OK for a man to bring a little experience into a marriage 3/24/44 p. 236-237 – more very detailed and explicit discussion between boy and girl about their anatomy 3/31/44 p. 247 – menstruation 4/16/44 p. 266-267 first kiss 4/17/44 p. 268 – her opinions as to why it’s ok to kiss a boy when you are just a teenager even if parents disapprove. 5/9/44 p. 290-291 – Joke involving explaining how babies are conceived 5/11/44 p. 292-293 – boy is chutzpadik to mother 5/19/44 p. 300 – more negiah 7/15/44 p. 332 – girl wonders if was a mistake to use physical intimacy to get close to boy, which ruled out other forms of friendship
05/24/2018 The Five People You Meet in Heaven Albom, Mitch Classic 11 - 12
Teen
A carnival maintenance worker goes to “heaven”, where he finds that there are 5 people from different stages of his life, who are there to explain to him the meaning of his life, and of life in general. Beautiful, touching, deep philosophical ideas, with lots of room for discussion. Language: hell, damn, J--.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Mild romantic negiah between man and girl that he will marry. Somewhat disturbing scene in which drunk friend of father accosts mother while she is changing in her bedroom, and is chased out by father.
Religion/Hashkafa
The most obvious issue is clarifying that this idea of “heaven” is opposed to the Torah view; and in fact the author did not mean to imply that this is what heaven really is, but rather that we should learn these lessons while still alive.
Language
Hell, damn, J--.
05/24/2018 The Hound of the Baskervilles Doyle, Arthur Conan Classic 8 - 10
Teen
A classic Sherlock Holmes mystery. A wealthy man is killed and all clues point to a ghostly hound as the killer until Holmes catches the murderer.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A very important part of the plot is a woman who masquerades as her husband's sister in order to cause the victim to fall in love with her, while her husband, also pretending to be single, causes a woman to divorce her husband so she will be free to marry him - she becomes as accessory to the murder. Detective wonders if the servant he saw sneaking out of the house has a "love intrigue" (servant is married). A man attempts to put his arm around a woman, she moves away from him.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many mentions of Neolithic man.
Language
Hell-hound, hell, sucker, stupid.
05/24/2018 The Hundred Dresses Estes, Eleanor Generally Acceptable 2 - 4
Girls feel bad that they made fun of a poor classmate who bragged she owned a hundred dresses. A few minor mentions of x-mas; no religion
05/24/2018 The Invisible Man Wells, H.G. Classic 9 - 12
(Page numbers refer to Signet Classic Edition)A man makes himself invisible and tries to take advantage of his new state. He discovers how helpless he suddenly is and gradually becomes more and more violent until he commits murder. Violence described in detail. Many mentions that he goes around “naked” so his clothing will not be visible. An extensive discussion of the science of light. Introduction-px-brief mention of Darwin’s theory of evolution.Chapt II-p11-damn itChapt IV-p25-damnableChapt VI-p32-never goes to church on Sunday P33-darmed (mispronunciation of curse) P34-go to the devilChapt VII-p35-go to the devil P40-damned P41-darm it (mispronunciation), stupidChapt IX-p48-blarsted (mispronunciation) P50-darnChapt XIII-p68-stupid P69-shut upChapt XIV-p74-blarsted (mispronunciation) P75-ass (as an insult) P75-asses (as an insult)Chapt XVII-p85-asses (as an insult) P89-devilryChapt XIX-p100-work like a niggerChapt XX-p110-112-somewhat negative description of a Polish JewChapt XXIII-p130-one word xmas P131-damn P133-damnChapt XXVII-p157-damnChapt XXVIII-p163-damned
05/24/2018 The Last Lecture Pausch, Randy Classic -
"Touching and inspiring book written by a university professor who had a few months to live. Teaches some universal and fundamental life lessons. P. 13 : woman says she is not ‘overjoyed’ about her pregnancy because it was an ‘accident’.P. 24 mentions that parents were Prebyterians; father was very giving and charitable, and therefore was the most “Christian” man the author ever met.P. 25 father arranged to donate his body to medical scienceP. 29 description of Pandora’s box, from Greek mythologyP 30 “sucks”P 37 “screwing”P 38 damnP 44: description of author’s admiration for Captain Kirk in Star Trek: romantic, woos every woman, like a Greek god, had the coolest damn toys.P 51: go to hellP 71: author writes that at age 37, he spent a lot of time dating around, having great fun, and then losing girlfriends who wanted to become more serious.P. 75: author’s future wife asks someone if he is gayP. 75: author flirts with his future wife by making more eye contact than is appropriate.Mild descriptions of author’s courtship with wife.P 91: pissed offP 94: SantaP 116: jerkP 122: students must build virtual world with “no pornography or violence”’; author states that 19 year old boys are “completely out of ideas when you take sex and violence off the table”.P 156: buttP 182: author got a vasectomy; p. 183 explained as birth controlP 184: author gets a letter from an unrequited crush from high schoolP 203: author’s wife says she can’t imagine rolling over in bed and him not being there.P. 203 author kisses wife on lips during his public speech. Picture of them hugging."
05/24/2018 The Light Between Oceans Stedman, M.L. Not Acceptable N/A
A light keeper and his wife decide to keep the baby who washes ashore in a boat with a dead man. Extremely bloody descriptions of the birthing process as well as miscarriages and stillbirth.There are many somewhat provocative descriptions of physical relations between husband and wife which while not completely explicit, are quite a bit more detailed than may be deemed appropriate. Quite a lot of repeated strong language including frequent use of Yoshka’s name as a curse (sometimes first name, often last name), bloody hell, bastard, damn. F-- at least once. Baby christening ceremony described (twice) including the exact words in the baptism right- renouncing devil, the father, the son and the holy ghost, etc. Praying at church, statue of saint, votive candles, etc. On ship, man stops a man from attacking a woman alone in her cabin- implication of attempted rape, but not said outright.
05/24/2018 The Mayor of Casterbridge Hardy, Thomas Classic -
(page numbers refer to the Bantam Classic edition).A man sells his wife and infant daughter to a sailor while in a drunken rage. Although he becomes sober and respectable, when his former wife and daughter reappear many years later he experiences a complete downfall. Woven throughout the story is the fact that his wife went to live with the man he “sold” her to and had children with him without ever marrying. Also, is his affair with another woman which caused a scandal (not detailed). He tells her that he would like to marry her to rescue her image. Townsfolk gossip constantly.In the end she doesn’t marry him, instead marries his bitter rival, but doesn’t tell her husband the truth about her former “relationship”. She lives in terror that he will find out. Eventually dies when she fears the secret is out and she miscarries. Their growing romance is detailed. P15 chapt 2- takes a vow not to drink again in churchP49 chapt 8 - dangedP67 chapt 11- old Roman amphitheatre secret meeting place for loversP74 chapt 12- blackness of hellP74 chapt 12 -man decides what to do now that he feels obligated to marry 2 women (the one he sold when he was drunk and the one of the “scandal”)P87 chapt 14- damn itP89-91 chapt 14- a mysterious note causes a young man and woman to meet and began their romantic relationship which never led to marriage (though she would have liked it to)P104 chapt 16- young man and woman danceP184 chapt 26 -dammyP187 chapt 27 - damnP226-227 chapt 33- forces church choir to sing a psalm against his enemyP265 chapt 38- damnedP299 chapt 42 - man recalls when his rival kissed his daughter
05/24/2018 The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare, William Classic 9 - 12
"Cliff's Complete has play in original language and commentary next to it. Page numbers below refer to Cliff’s Complete.Introduction: P 3: Shakespeare born 6 months after parents' marriage - discussion of pregnancy before marriage in 16th century. P 19: Jew in Elizabethan society - suggest play not anti-Semitic. P 23: Summary of Italian story that Shakespeare may have based play on - woman promises to give fortune to first man who sleeps with her. P. 28: Love between men (friendship) compared to love between man & woman. The Play and its Commentaries:P. 72: man wonders how Jewish girl can be so beautiful unless mother cheated on her father with a Christian. P. 108: Man kisses woman before marriage (not in detail). P 115: Picture of unclothed Hercules - frontal area minimally obscured. P. 125: Conflict between platonic friendship and sexual love (also p. 151). P. 129: Speculation Jewish girl's mother committed adultery. Talk of her being ""saved"" because eloped with Christian and converted. Mention of man having affair (and baby) with black woman. P. 166 - Since husband gave their engagement ring as payment to doctor, wife teases him that she will now consider self doctor's wife. ""I'll not deny him anything I have, not my body, nor my husband's bed... I'll have him for a bedfellow. “ P. 171 States the above point more clearly but explains it was a joke."
05/24/2018 The Moonstone Collins, Wilkie Classic 11 - 12
A man steals a valuable stone from India that has a curse on it, and bequeaths it to his neice when she turns 18. Many descriptions of the lifestyle of rich young people who have very little to keep themselves occupied so they create diversions for themselves. Spend most of the time in coed society. Whenever in need of guidance, servant opens book of Robinson Crusoe and finds some relevant quote. Humorous philosophy on marriage- "see that she chews her food well and sets her food down firmly on the ground when she walks, and you're all right." Older man takes a younger woman "by the ear" to reprimand her.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A good deal of romance- cousins spend a good deal of time together- everyone wonders if they have fallen in love- much later in the book it is clear they had. A house maid falls in love with a gentelman and commits suicide. Leaves a note describing how "the gentleman who ws her father deserted" her mother so she lived on the streets and became a thief. Man pretends to be in love with woman and proposes to her- turns out he has a mistress and only proposed to her since he was in debt and he needed her money. When he proposes to her he puts his arms around her. A lot of discussion if one should marry for love or if respecting/admiring a spouse is enough. Illustration of him proposing on one knee and holding her hand. A woman secretely observing this proposal says "He drew her nearer and nearer to him till her face touched his; and then- NO! I really cannot prevail upon myself to carry this shocking disclosure any further. Let me only say that I tried to close my eyes before it happened and that I was just one moment too late." Man meets estranged girlfriend "I caught her in my arms, and covered her face with kisses". Male narrator describes women as having a beautiful figure, or a "fine show of the collarbone" etc. Full illustrations of ladies in low-cut gowns. Takes girl's hand to comfort her.
Religion/Hashkafa
Descriptions of Hindu religious practices and mythology including worship of gods.
Religion/Hashkafa
Minor mentions of Christianity and being a "good Christian when you don't push my Christianity too far".
Language
Language- damn you , dammed
05/24/2018 The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway, Ernest Classic 9 - 12
(Page numbers refer to Scribner Edition)A short novel about an old fisherman and his battle with a huge fish, and his relationship with a boy who cares for him. A lot of symbolism involving the sea, some of it sexual – e.g. calls sea a “whore” (p. 35). P. 77 – “as though the ocean were making love with something under a yellow blanket”P. 36 – references to “strange love making of turtles”. P. 42 – Ch--- (Last name of JC)P. 64 – promise to say “Hail Marys’ to “our fathers” and make a pilgrimage to the virgin of Cobre.P. 65 – Hail Mary written out; talking about JC and Holy mother of god and blessed virgin, etc.P. 66 – Ch---.Language: p. 36: stupid; p. 123: damn; p. 125: hell.A few mentions of men “urinating”.
05/24/2018 The Outsiders Hinton, S.E. Classic -
In 1960’s, lower-class gang fights against high-class gang. When boy from high-class gang try to drown boy from low-class, his friend kills the attacker in panicked self-defence. They run away, and become heroes by saving children from fire which they started by accident. Main character tries to break from the culture of violence and find goodness.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Boys in both groups have girlfriends. It is mentioned that the girls in the lower class group (who do not appear in the story) speak with curses, and need to be be “beat off with a stick” (not explained - implying that they try to be physically affectionate). Boy from low-class becomes friends with girl from high-class; not romantic.More serious boy/girl issues are implied in passing. At a party that has both girls and boys, a boy says he was in the bedroom; when he says this, the younger boy’s ears turn red, since he has heard what goes on in bedrooms at those types of parties; older boy laughs and says he was just resting because he was injured. Boy says his girlfriend had to go live with her grandmother in Florida, because it was “either that or get married” (implying she is pregnant); later the boy is depressed because his letter to her was returned unopened, and his brother tells someone “it wasn’t him” (implying that she got pregnant from someone else). This would be totally missed by many kids, but would be explained in Cliff-type notes.
Language
Boys are described as cursing, but without specifying language. They are admired for this. “Hell” and “damn” used once or twice.
Violence
Descriptions of attacks and ‘rumble’ (group fight) between groups; overall message at end is that the violence is bad.
Street Reality, "Gritty" books
Gritty street culture.Boys in lower class group smoke from a very young age, as was common in those times. This is considered normal, and boy is surprised when a high-class man says he shouldn’t smoke. Boys from both groups drink.
05/24/2018 The Pearl Steinbeck, John Classic 9 - 12
Classic story (short in length) of a native couple who find an enormous pearl which eventually ruins their simple but happy way of life. Many mentions of mother putting baby “to her breast”. Doctor fondly remembers his “civilized” life in France where he “had been able to keep a mistress”. Natives hope they will find a pearl if “luck and the gods might be for it.” Woman tells the priest that now that they found the pearl she and her husband “will be married now” (so what were they before? They have a child and live in the same hut). Description of sermon where priest says people should not aspire to higher stations in life “else the castle (the world) is in danger from the assaults of Hell”. When woman is scared she says “Hail Marys”.
08/12/2022 The Phantom Tollbooth Juster, Norton Classic 4 - 8
A boy who is bored with life receives a magical tollbooth as a present that sends him on a journey that revitalizes his interest in learning about the world. The entire book is tongue in cheek and full of wordplay. p104 Brief mention of xmas trees
05/24/2018 The Prince and the Pauper - The Library of America Edition Twain, Mark Classic 8 - 10
(Page numbers refer to the Library of America Edition). A pauper boy in a slum is born the same day as the heir to the throne of England. Lives of the lower class clearly described in detail, including hunger, filth, drunkenness, begging, robbery and abuse of children. Chapter 18 P. 114: vague allusion to "familiarities" of a band of lawless men with a farmer's daughter - not explained. Some rough language but very old fashioned - nothing very severe in modern terms. A lot of mentions of religion but depicted in a very satirical way - a crazy man believes himself to be an archangel. Call a church by J's name as a location: J___'s Church. Tragic burnings at stake described in detail.
05/24/2018 The Red Pony Steinbeck, John Classic 9 - 12
"Series of four well-written short stories about a boy growing up on a ranch. Contains many literary elements which are ripe for discussion. Although each story is about a child, these are not stories written for children. None of the stories end happily. The final story has a somewhat hopeful ending, at least superficially, since the boy offers his sad grandfather a cup of lemonade. However, it is not clear if this is an act of generosity or an act of rebellion against his father who callously caused the grandfather’s sadness. (Throughout, the father is portrayed as rather insensitive and incapable of being a good father to his son, and the son is portrayed as somewhat rebellious). This book contains many detailed and gory descriptions of the death of various animals. Especially vivid are the deaths caused by the boy’s cruelty as well as death caused by birth complications.One mention of J-- as religious figure (intro xxvi)Two mentions of J-- used as an expletive (p. 36, 74)Language: damn (p. 48, 49, 74, 75, 78, 80) Hell (p. 63, 69)The boy takes his female horse to a neighboring ranch to be “bred” with a male horse. Some description but mostly inference (p. 57-61)"
05/24/2018 The Scarlet Pimpernel Orczy, Baroness Emmuska Classic 9 - 12
A beautiful French woman marries a wealthy Englishman during the time of the French Revolution, and tries to save her brother by discovering the identity of a man known as “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, who rescues French aristocracy. Language: constant use of “demmed” (damned) in a British slang sort of way , eg: “demmed marvelous”. Men and women described dancing at a ball, but not very romantically. A tame love story as a minor plot, ends in marriage. An estranged marriage described: husband and wife live in separate wings of the house, Wife tries to rekindle his “passion”. P 153 – a few descriptions that could end up in inappropriate detail, but it doesn’t . P 157 – “He would have taken her in his arms”, etc, but he didn’t. Jew described as greedy, dirty, downtrodden, of “loathsome appearance”.
05/24/2018 The Secret Garden Burnett, Frances Hodgson Generally Acceptable 5 - 7
A lonely unsociable child is sent to live with hunchback uncle. Magical religious hymn about father, son & holy ghost, other minor religion
01/30/2022 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror Stevenson, Robert Louis Classic 9 - 12
All comments are related to the Penguin Classics Edition. There are several short stories in this volume after the main story. A doctor invents a potion that causes him to transform into an evil being that represents his worst self and commits all kinds of crimes with impunity. This edition also contains shorter stories by the same author - The Body Snatcher and Ollala as well as A Chapter on Dreams and a scientific review of the story. Introduction- mentions titles of various works of horror fiction which may or may not be appropriate. Mention that some of these stories were written for the "Christmas ghost story market".pxviii- damnable young manpxix- "But what was this unspoken bad fancy tacitly understood by both Utterson and his client? These circumstances appear to be carefully plotted to point to, without actually specifying a suspicion that some erotic attachment is at the bottom of Jekyll's relationship with Hyde. Blackmail and homosexuality have a long history of association...blackmail attempts involved a threat to expose a man as a homosexual, whether or not he wer in fact gay...Oscar Wilde himself had been subject to a number of blackmail attempts, most of them by rent boys with whom he or his lover... had consorted..."pxx-"A suggestion of homosexuality provides a plausible hypothesis ...of course Stevenson could not describe or directly refer to what was called 'unnatural" and deemed unspeakable in the pages of prose fiction designed for a popular readership;, but he could, and perhaps did manipulate the expectations and suppositions of his readers who could not complain if their own imaginations had supplied what Stevenson had refused to actually state..." "...the use of legal and medical procedures and forms of knowledge (which apart from pornography, constituted almost the sole place where homosexuality was discussed in print)..."xxi- "That Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is something more than a shilling shocker, a creepy tale for Christmas 1885...the story has a much larger and deeper interest...it is a marvelous exploration into the recesses of nature... a parable with a profound allegory...based on the two fold nature of man...taught to us by the apostle Paul in Roman7...his tale provided the text for the sermon preached from the pulpit of St Paul's Cathedral...it is a fight between good and evil, duty and temptation, in the human soul, a story as old as Genesis."xxiii- Jekyll conceives of Hyde as his lower element. Whilst this is principally a moral or even metaphysical designation, it is also strongly suggested that Hyde is also lower on the evolutionary scale..a less upright individual evokes suggestions of the simian.. ape like fury... ape like spite, his bestial nature and remarks about how hairy his opposite is. This inference eventually culminates in a frightening vision of primordial immorality...this emphasis on criminality or sinfulness being a primitive condition or impulse corresponds with that found in a number of writings from the period which employed evolutionary models to understand criminality and mental disorder.xxiv-"In short, Hyde is the physical expression of moral lowness according to post Darwinian thought".xxv- "Jekyll attempt to make an absolute division between the respectable and the disreputable, the righteous and the libertine,, the social and the sensual/sexual. xxxiv-comparisons with other novels listed by title and author which may or may not be appropriateStrange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:p7- hellishp7-damnedp9-damnablep35-what an assp53-your sight shall be blasted by a prodigy to stagger the unbelief of Satanp64- the spirit of hellp67- child of hellThe Body Snatcher- a man is hired to pay for the cadavers used in medical school but eventually discovers that they are actually murder victims but he does nothing to stop itp73 - man had some "fleeting infidelities"p88-hellOlalla- a man goes to the mountains to recover and falls in love with the daughter and discovers that his hosts have a strange secretp97-suspicion that man and women didn't marry and their children are "bastards"p118 very descriptive about mother- "passive sensuality"p119- very descriptiveabout his feelings for the girl "eyes exchanging salvos of attraction" etc.p120- man wonders if what he feels for women is love or "brute attraction"p121- girl goes to the man who stretched out his arms "she leaped to me and clung to me"p124-125 man is injured and girl cares for him-he goes into detail about how he perceives her - for example- "I saw the faultless face and through the robe the lines of the faultless body" "the touch of her smooth hand lingered"p126- he kisses her handp126- she tries to convince him their relationship isn't meant to be "What am I then...if not a curve in this poor body of mine (which you love, and the sake of which you dotingly dream that you love me"p132- "it was there that one of my comrades sold himself to satan; the virgin sheild us from temptaions! He has paid the price; he is now burning in the reddest place in hell"p133- girl kneels to pray before a crucifixp134- references to yoshka as "man of sorrows" "friend of the distressed" "rays of glory encircled it"Diagnosing Jekyllp154- a multipage essay about "sexual perversion" connected to the Jekyll and Hyde story
05/24/2018 The Swiss Family Robinson Wyss, Johann David Generally Acceptable 6 - 8
A very religious Christian family gets shipwrecked and make a wonderful life for selves on desert island. Lots of religion but nothing really objectionable. Very specific and painstaking details about all they did including killing animals for food and clothing; may be gory for some.
05/24/2018 The Time Machine Wells, H.G. Classic 9 - 12
A man invents a time machine and travels to the future. There he finds a two class society. One group of people are beautiful innocents who spend the day having fun. The second are dark and scary and live underground and have technology. They breed the above- worlders for food. The man pondrs about how this "evolution of man" came out. This book leads to discussions about the innate goodness of man, but certainly doesn't bring G-d into the equation. The man gets attached to a female above worlder. He carries her and kisses her but it is not romantic in the strictest sense of the word- he calls it a "childish affection" chapt 2 p10 man said he was damnedchapt 2 p12 xmas (one word)chapt 3 p18 damnedchapt 8 p51 negrochapt 12 p98 damned soulschapt 16 p114 I'm damnedepilogue- metiones of various ages (that happened millions of years ago)
Filter results
×
Title, Author
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
Review Date 05/24/2018 Rebecca Du Maurier. Daphne
Grades: -
Classic
(Page numbers refer to Harper Edition)A young orphaned woman marries a wealthy widow much older than herself and of a much higher class than herself, and feels unable to compete with the memory of his first wife until the truth comes out- the first wife was unfaithful (told in a very straightforward manner- impossible to miss)- She often invited men to a cabin (after she was married) and they “made love to her” and then she laughed at them and made fun of them. It was a “game” to her to make men jealous and to seduce untouchable men including her brother in law. She was also extremely cruel. The husband finally murdered her (reader feels very sympathetic toward the murderer after reading about the wife’s behavior).Constant cigarette smoking. At the end of the book there is an author’s note- author says she wrote this book imagining how jealous she would feel if her husband had been married previously.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Their brief courtship described in detail- they accidentally met in a hotel and when the woman she was with took sick, they spent days together, the girl lying about what she was doing. He proposes to her in a very matter of fact way, then apologizes for proposing like that saying that instead he should (pg. 54) “make violent love to you behind a palm tree...never mind, I’ll take you to Venice for the honeymoon and we’ll hold hands in the gondola.” . After they are married she worries often and in detail -if they are happy together, if he loves her, if he is comparing her to his first wife, whether he still loved his first wife, etc. Detailed descriptions of husband kissing wife “hungry, desperate, feverishly, etc.” . The first wife’s cousin appears a number of times in the novel- he is of loose morals and admits that he had an affair with the first wife (they were “lovers”), he flirts with the second wife, he is often drunk, he tries to blackmail the husband, etc. Husband’s sister tells bride that she hopes she is doing nothing to prevent having a baby. An important setting is a fancy dress ball- descriptions of coed dancing and flirting- nothing terribly romantic. At the end of the ball the men and women hold hands and stand in a circle singing the last song.
Religion/Hashkafa
Occasional unimportant mentions of bishop and his wife, churches, Christian creed, man uses JC as a curse, being buried in the crypt in the church.
Language
Very frequent use of words damn/ damned/ damnably and hell- sometimes more than once on a page (even three or four times on a page), especially the middle to the end of the novel. A lot of minor language: idiotic/ idiot, stupidity/ stupid, shut up, blasted, ass.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Wiggin, Kate Douglas
Grades: 4 - 7
Questionable
Classic story of a poor girl who comes to live with her spinster aunts and ends up coming to appreciate them, and they her. Novel follows her as she grows up always backed by an older single man- not overtly romantic but might end up that way in a future book. Some classics mentioned by title. Many mentions of church and Sunday school. Girl writes a poem about “seraphim” angels, goes to a missionary meeting, hymn singing, an actual hymn written out (p181-182), hymn “J. should reign” (not written out p 183), girl makes up a prayer –relatively innocuous, many mentions of xmas presents. During the war one of the aunts was engaged and her fiancé was injured so she went to nurse him and “hold his hand through hours of pain” and he died “in her arms”. Mention of boys and girls mingling, boys carrying books for girls, “flirtations”, and “school girl romances” but none of it described in detail. Girl wishes she could wear gowns with low necks that show her shoulders. Humorous description of a family with a father who is in and out of jail and mother not really around to raise them, leading to a dysfunctional household. Language- stupid, consarned, idiot.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Robinson Crusoe Defoe, Daniel
Grades: -
Classic
(Pages refer to Bantam Classic Edition). A classic story of a man who is shipwrecked on a desert island and manages to survive. The biggest issue here is hashkafa. He is raised as a religious Christian but when he runs away to sea against his parent’s wishes he abandons his faith, only regaining it after almost dying on the desert isle. From the time he regains his faith the book goes into minute detail describing his thoughts about G-d and religion. Even more detail when he teaches his slave about Christianity. A lot of it is neutral and even correct, but there is a lot of belief in JC mentioned in very detailed unacceptable ways. However, most children will tend to skip the myriad pages of religious discussion and look for the action in the story. Teachers and parents have to decide if they want to rely on that tendency. Some of the places with hashkafa issues (though book should be previewed in full)Chapter-Pirates-p ll The Journal:Illness- whole chapter The Journal:Recovery- P92 The Journal:Exploring The Island-p100-101 The Journal:Reflections-p115 A Footprint-p139-142 Bones-p149,153-155 Enounter With Savages-p176-177 Friday Observed-p188 Friday Instructed-whole chapter Return To England- p255
Review Date 05/24/2018 Silas Marner - The Weaver of Raveloe Eliot, George
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
Pages below refer to Modern Library Classics editionA man is falsely accused of robbery so he leaves his small church based community and his faith in his religion and exiles himself to a small village where he lives an isolated life. Eventually a baby wanders into his house and he is transformed by raising her.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
One of the rich villagers married an "opium addled" woman from a lower class, had a child with her and then regretted it. He hid her away in another town and courted a different lady. When his wife died he happily married the other without telling her or acknowledging the child until many years later. Courtship scenes and dances. Some minor romantic negiah. In Introduction to this edition mentions that author (a woman) eloped with a married man who was her "companion" for 24 years.
Religion/Hashkafa
A good deal of religious discussion including Satan, souls, judgment and disappointment that G-d didn't clear him of a crime when he was falsely accused. A kind woman urges him to go to church on Sundays and not work on that day. Many pages detailing her reasoning (p. 96-100). Mentions JC born on X-mas day.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Sounder Armstrong, William H.
Grades: 6 - 8
Acceptable
Son of a black sharecropper deals with father's prison sentence (who stole to feed family), and heart wrenching devotion of father's dog. Lots of biblical quotes and thoughts but nothing too objectionable. Sad.
Review Date 05/24/2018 Stuart Little White, E. B.
Grades: 3 - 5
Generally Acceptable
A mouse born to a human couple runs away to seek his fortune and to find his bird-friend. One chapter about a date (chap 14) with a short girl, that ends in disaster; nothing romantic. Mention of the poem "The Night Before Xmas". One sentence mention of a girl receiving a present from a boy to remember him by (chap 12 p. 98).
Review Date 05/24/2018 Tale of Two Cities Dickens, Charles
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
(Pages refer to Bantam classic Edition with an afterward by Stephen Koch) (Bantam classic Edition with an afterward by Stephen Koch)A French nobleman who has moved to England and renounced his heritage, returns home in the middle of the French Revolution, and is sentenced to death by a blood thirsty mob. The afterward in this edition is truly horrific and makes what is not explicit, very explicit, and problems that don’t even seem to exist suddenly appear.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A lot of non-romantic negiah, mostly of the polite variety. Two men want to marry the same woman – the one who doesn’t marry her eventually gives his life to save the one who does. Romantic negiah between husband and wife – p 210 & 211 book 2 chap 20; p 247 book 3 chap 6. A man and woman on the way to be killed become friends and there is some negiah – p 360 book 3 chap 13, p 380 book 3 chap 15. Description of a cruel nobleman raping a woman but not very explicit – chap 10 p 323 .
Religion/Hashkafa
A quote about the resurrection – p. 319 chap 9 book 3, p. 380 chap 15 book 3.
Language
Language – damned (chap 2 book 1 p 7), d-n (with dash) (chap 12 book 2 p 145 & 146, chap 24 book 2 p 241).
Violence
Very gory and violent and detailed descriptions of people put to a violent death for crimes both real and imagined.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The 13 Clocks Thurber, James
Grades: 8 - 10
Generally Acceptable
Teen
A prince sets out to find jewels so that he can win the princess's hand in marriage, and appease her evil uncle. Written like a children's fairy tale but extremely sophisticated in its play on words and ideas and symbolism. Many children reading this will not get it on their own.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Alchemist Coelho, Paulo
Grades: 11 - 12
Classic
A man in ancient Middle East, searches for treasure and his own Personal Legend.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Mild romance, one embrace.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many philosophical concepts, including underlying idea of universal spirituality, ‘Soul of the World’.. (In author’s comments after end of book, he notes his view of universal religion). References that overlap with Jewish concepts: Urim Vetumim (stones used to make a choice), G-d, King of Salem (Melchizedek), Abraham. Biggest issue: story of man who meets ‘rabbi’ who is ‘son of G-d’ - obvious reference to J.C.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Birchbark House Erdrich, Louise
Grades: 4 - 6
Questionable
Realistic description of Native Americans. Smallpox epidemic and death discussed very matter of factly. Lots of emphasis on Indian beliefs - needs adult guidance
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Boyne, John
Grades: 6 - 8
Classic
Unique book written from perspective of fictional son of a concentration camp Commandant. In the book, the son does not fully understand what is going on in the camp, and ends up befriending a child interred there. Although the book is written about a 9-year old, and the language appears to be on a 4-6 grade level, the subtleties of the story line are geared to be understood by older children. Some educators expressed concern that the implication that it was possible for a child of a commandant not to know what was going on, might confuse child readers and make them think it was not so bad after all. We recommend that educators read this book and make a decision for their students, and if read should be read with guidance.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Cay Taylor, Theodore
Grades: 6 - 8
Acceptable
A boy is shipwrecked on a deserted island together with an elderly black man. Overcomes prejudices.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Chosen Potok, Chaim
Grades: N/A
Not Acceptable
Son of modern ‘enlightened’ Orthodox Jew, befriends son of Chassidic Rebbe in America in the 1940’s. Chassidic boy feels trapped by his father and impending inheritance of the position of Rebbe, and turns to non-Jewish philosophical works provided to him by modern librarian (modern boy’s father). Entire book revolves around denigrating of chassidim in particular, and very religious ‘unenlightened’ Jews in general, as being backwards, closed-minded, superstitious, and unworldly. Father of modern boy holds religious views that would be considered apikorsus, and when he explains himself he sounds extremely educated and logical.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The City of Ember DuPrau, Jeanne
Grades: 5 - 8
Generally Acceptable
Great story set in underground society with no knowledge of outside world. Implications of world being destroyed by war but never stated outright (may be scary to some kids). Minor non-romantic negiah. Brief mention of liking a boy (p 146 ch 11). Very well written. Some of the other books in this series more problematic, but this book can stand alone.
Review Date 11/04/2021 The Dawning of the Day: A Jerusalem Tale Sabato, Haim
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
A Yerushalmi Sephardic man with deep, sincere faith in G-d makes his way through a changing Jerusalem. He is comfortable with many types of people both Sephardi and Ashkenazy, scholar and simple. Many, many references to BIblical and Talmudic commentaries. The author is a Rosh Yeshiva in Maale Adumim.. Although this is a short but slow moving read, there is very little objectionable. The man's brother in law is a scholar at Hebrew University who analyzes medieval Hebrew poetry, but still seems to be a believing man.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Devil's Arithmetic Yolen, Jane
Grades: 5 - 8
Classic
A non-frum American girl opens door for Eliyahu Hanavi at seder and is transported to the Holocaust. P. 38 - references but not specific about coming home on wedding night and walls being thin. Girl says she knows what wedding night is because of "General Hospital" (meaning - the soap opera). P 92- female anatomy. P 134 - girl recites Kaddish. P 153 before they are shot groom says to bride "the sky is our wedding canopy" and kisses the top of her head. Language: bastard. Several references to Rabbi saying they should trust in G-d, while some make vaguely cynical comments. Bride and groom hold hands before marriage (when being loaded onto Nazi train). Adult man hugs girl who is his neice. References to some movies, including Yentl.Note to teachers: Movie is different from book: girl is 16, not 13. Movie starts with girl in tattoo parlor with her friend who is getting a navel tattoo. Tame romance between girl and Rabbi’s son in the camp. Scene of woman having baby in camp, shows her bare legs with knees up. Scene of women undressing for gas chamber - bare shoulders; gas chamber with naked bodies piled up (arms, legs, shoulders).
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Diary of A Young Girl - The Definitive Edition (Doubleday) Frank, Anne
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
(Pages below refer to Doubleday edition; Journal entry dates included for use with other editions. Note that this edition includes passages not included in earlier editions)The diary of a Jewish girl who struggles with coming of age while in hiding during the Holocaust. Although it's very moving, there are quite a few very clear and explicit passages dealing with boy/girl, negiah, and physical maturation. In addition, girl is very clear about negative feeling toward parents and especially lack of respect for mother. Also sprinkling of hashkafic issues. Not recommended for casual reading. For educators: this book would be difficult to censor sufficiently, but problematic passages are listed below.Forward – page vi Explains how certain passages dealing with sexuality were omitted in the original book but added in this edition.6/15/42 p. 5 – Lists and describes boys who admire Anne, using adjectives such as “a filthy mind”, “girl crazy”, “Absolute flirt”, “has gone all the way”. 6/20/42 p. 10 – Boys give “passionate glances”, blow kisses, take hold of her arm 10/3/42 p. 50 – Teenage girl lay in bed next to an adult man and everyone thought it shocking – her comment – “I would never want to sleep with him the way they mean” 10/3/42 p. 52 – Women sell bodies on the street, menstruation 11/2/42 P. 60 – menstruation 11/10/42 p. 62 – Man lives with a woman – probably not married “but that’s besides the point” 12/7/42 p. 73 – Celebrate St. Nicholas Day and Chanukah together 4/2/43 p. 96 – One example of Anne’s relationship with mom (regular theme throughout) 5/2/43 p. 100 – bra 5/18/43 p. 103 – a single man says to married woman “come into my bed my child”; everyone thinks it’s a grand joke. 10/30/43 p. 140-142 – Anne’s relationship with parents 11/3/43 p. 143 – Jews learning “New” Testament; J. C 1/6/44 p. 161 – menstruation, female anatomy Photo insert, center – teenager in bathing suit 1/6/44 p. 162 – Anne’s ecstatic feeling when sees unclothed female 1/6/44 p. 162-163 – Dreams of negiah 1/7/44 p. 164 – First love 1/7/44 p. 166 – Dreams of negiah 1/24/44 p. 173-176 – Learning about sex – detailed – discusses it with boy 3/2/44 p. 202 – Her attitude that it’s OK to have relations without marriage as long as there is true love. 3/8/44 p. 212 – dreaming of kissing boy 3/18/44 p. 223-324 – her opinions about learning about sex and that it’s OK for a man to bring a little experience into a marriage 3/24/44 p. 236-237 – more very detailed and explicit discussion between boy and girl about their anatomy 3/31/44 p. 247 – menstruation 4/16/44 p. 266-267 first kiss 4/17/44 p. 268 – her opinions as to why it’s ok to kiss a boy when you are just a teenager even if parents disapprove. 5/9/44 p. 290-291 – Joke involving explaining how babies are conceived 5/11/44 p. 292-293 – boy is chutzpadik to mother 5/19/44 p. 300 – more negiah 7/15/44 p. 332 – girl wonders if was a mistake to use physical intimacy to get close to boy, which ruled out other forms of friendship
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Five People You Meet in Heaven Albom, Mitch
Grades: 11 - 12
Classic
Teen
A carnival maintenance worker goes to “heaven”, where he finds that there are 5 people from different stages of his life, who are there to explain to him the meaning of his life, and of life in general. Beautiful, touching, deep philosophical ideas, with lots of room for discussion. Language: hell, damn, J--.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Mild romantic negiah between man and girl that he will marry. Somewhat disturbing scene in which drunk friend of father accosts mother while she is changing in her bedroom, and is chased out by father.
Religion/Hashkafa
The most obvious issue is clarifying that this idea of “heaven” is opposed to the Torah view; and in fact the author did not mean to imply that this is what heaven really is, but rather that we should learn these lessons while still alive.
Language
Hell, damn, J--.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Hound of the Baskervilles Doyle, Arthur Conan
Grades: 8 - 10
Classic
Teen
A classic Sherlock Holmes mystery. A wealthy man is killed and all clues point to a ghostly hound as the killer until Holmes catches the murderer.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A very important part of the plot is a woman who masquerades as her husband's sister in order to cause the victim to fall in love with her, while her husband, also pretending to be single, causes a woman to divorce her husband so she will be free to marry him - she becomes as accessory to the murder. Detective wonders if the servant he saw sneaking out of the house has a "love intrigue" (servant is married). A man attempts to put his arm around a woman, she moves away from him.
Religion/Hashkafa
Many mentions of Neolithic man.
Language
Hell-hound, hell, sucker, stupid.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Hundred Dresses Estes, Eleanor
Grades: 2 - 4
Generally Acceptable
Girls feel bad that they made fun of a poor classmate who bragged she owned a hundred dresses. A few minor mentions of x-mas; no religion
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Invisible Man Wells, H.G.
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
(Page numbers refer to Signet Classic Edition)A man makes himself invisible and tries to take advantage of his new state. He discovers how helpless he suddenly is and gradually becomes more and more violent until he commits murder. Violence described in detail. Many mentions that he goes around “naked” so his clothing will not be visible. An extensive discussion of the science of light. Introduction-px-brief mention of Darwin’s theory of evolution.Chapt II-p11-damn itChapt IV-p25-damnableChapt VI-p32-never goes to church on Sunday P33-darmed (mispronunciation of curse) P34-go to the devilChapt VII-p35-go to the devil P40-damned P41-darm it (mispronunciation), stupidChapt IX-p48-blarsted (mispronunciation) P50-darnChapt XIII-p68-stupid P69-shut upChapt XIV-p74-blarsted (mispronunciation) P75-ass (as an insult) P75-asses (as an insult)Chapt XVII-p85-asses (as an insult) P89-devilryChapt XIX-p100-work like a niggerChapt XX-p110-112-somewhat negative description of a Polish JewChapt XXIII-p130-one word xmas P131-damn P133-damnChapt XXVII-p157-damnChapt XXVIII-p163-damned
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Last Lecture Pausch, Randy
Grades: -
Classic
"Touching and inspiring book written by a university professor who had a few months to live. Teaches some universal and fundamental life lessons. P. 13 : woman says she is not ‘overjoyed’ about her pregnancy because it was an ‘accident’.P. 24 mentions that parents were Prebyterians; father was very giving and charitable, and therefore was the most “Christian” man the author ever met.P. 25 father arranged to donate his body to medical scienceP. 29 description of Pandora’s box, from Greek mythologyP 30 “sucks”P 37 “screwing”P 38 damnP 44: description of author’s admiration for Captain Kirk in Star Trek: romantic, woos every woman, like a Greek god, had the coolest damn toys.P 51: go to hellP 71: author writes that at age 37, he spent a lot of time dating around, having great fun, and then losing girlfriends who wanted to become more serious.P. 75: author’s future wife asks someone if he is gayP. 75: author flirts with his future wife by making more eye contact than is appropriate.Mild descriptions of author’s courtship with wife.P 91: pissed offP 94: SantaP 116: jerkP 122: students must build virtual world with “no pornography or violence”’; author states that 19 year old boys are “completely out of ideas when you take sex and violence off the table”.P 156: buttP 182: author got a vasectomy; p. 183 explained as birth controlP 184: author gets a letter from an unrequited crush from high schoolP 203: author’s wife says she can’t imagine rolling over in bed and him not being there.P. 203 author kisses wife on lips during his public speech. Picture of them hugging."
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Light Between Oceans Stedman, M.L.
Grades: N/A
Not Acceptable
A light keeper and his wife decide to keep the baby who washes ashore in a boat with a dead man. Extremely bloody descriptions of the birthing process as well as miscarriages and stillbirth.There are many somewhat provocative descriptions of physical relations between husband and wife which while not completely explicit, are quite a bit more detailed than may be deemed appropriate. Quite a lot of repeated strong language including frequent use of Yoshka’s name as a curse (sometimes first name, often last name), bloody hell, bastard, damn. F-- at least once. Baby christening ceremony described (twice) including the exact words in the baptism right- renouncing devil, the father, the son and the holy ghost, etc. Praying at church, statue of saint, votive candles, etc. On ship, man stops a man from attacking a woman alone in her cabin- implication of attempted rape, but not said outright.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Mayor of Casterbridge Hardy, Thomas
Grades: -
Classic
(page numbers refer to the Bantam Classic edition).A man sells his wife and infant daughter to a sailor while in a drunken rage. Although he becomes sober and respectable, when his former wife and daughter reappear many years later he experiences a complete downfall. Woven throughout the story is the fact that his wife went to live with the man he “sold” her to and had children with him without ever marrying. Also, is his affair with another woman which caused a scandal (not detailed). He tells her that he would like to marry her to rescue her image. Townsfolk gossip constantly.In the end she doesn’t marry him, instead marries his bitter rival, but doesn’t tell her husband the truth about her former “relationship”. She lives in terror that he will find out. Eventually dies when she fears the secret is out and she miscarries. Their growing romance is detailed. P15 chapt 2- takes a vow not to drink again in churchP49 chapt 8 - dangedP67 chapt 11- old Roman amphitheatre secret meeting place for loversP74 chapt 12- blackness of hellP74 chapt 12 -man decides what to do now that he feels obligated to marry 2 women (the one he sold when he was drunk and the one of the “scandal”)P87 chapt 14- damn itP89-91 chapt 14- a mysterious note causes a young man and woman to meet and began their romantic relationship which never led to marriage (though she would have liked it to)P104 chapt 16- young man and woman danceP184 chapt 26 -dammyP187 chapt 27 - damnP226-227 chapt 33- forces church choir to sing a psalm against his enemyP265 chapt 38- damnedP299 chapt 42 - man recalls when his rival kissed his daughter
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare, William
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
"Cliff's Complete has play in original language and commentary next to it. Page numbers below refer to Cliff’s Complete.Introduction: P 3: Shakespeare born 6 months after parents' marriage - discussion of pregnancy before marriage in 16th century. P 19: Jew in Elizabethan society - suggest play not anti-Semitic. P 23: Summary of Italian story that Shakespeare may have based play on - woman promises to give fortune to first man who sleeps with her. P. 28: Love between men (friendship) compared to love between man & woman. The Play and its Commentaries:P. 72: man wonders how Jewish girl can be so beautiful unless mother cheated on her father with a Christian. P. 108: Man kisses woman before marriage (not in detail). P 115: Picture of unclothed Hercules - frontal area minimally obscured. P. 125: Conflict between platonic friendship and sexual love (also p. 151). P. 129: Speculation Jewish girl's mother committed adultery. Talk of her being ""saved"" because eloped with Christian and converted. Mention of man having affair (and baby) with black woman. P. 166 - Since husband gave their engagement ring as payment to doctor, wife teases him that she will now consider self doctor's wife. ""I'll not deny him anything I have, not my body, nor my husband's bed... I'll have him for a bedfellow. “ P. 171 States the above point more clearly but explains it was a joke."
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Moonstone Collins, Wilkie
Grades: 11 - 12
Classic
A man steals a valuable stone from India that has a curse on it, and bequeaths it to his neice when she turns 18. Many descriptions of the lifestyle of rich young people who have very little to keep themselves occupied so they create diversions for themselves. Spend most of the time in coed society. Whenever in need of guidance, servant opens book of Robinson Crusoe and finds some relevant quote. Humorous philosophy on marriage- "see that she chews her food well and sets her food down firmly on the ground when she walks, and you're all right." Older man takes a younger woman "by the ear" to reprimand her.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
A good deal of romance- cousins spend a good deal of time together- everyone wonders if they have fallen in love- much later in the book it is clear they had. A house maid falls in love with a gentelman and commits suicide. Leaves a note describing how "the gentleman who ws her father deserted" her mother so she lived on the streets and became a thief. Man pretends to be in love with woman and proposes to her- turns out he has a mistress and only proposed to her since he was in debt and he needed her money. When he proposes to her he puts his arms around her. A lot of discussion if one should marry for love or if respecting/admiring a spouse is enough. Illustration of him proposing on one knee and holding her hand. A woman secretely observing this proposal says "He drew her nearer and nearer to him till her face touched his; and then- NO! I really cannot prevail upon myself to carry this shocking disclosure any further. Let me only say that I tried to close my eyes before it happened and that I was just one moment too late." Man meets estranged girlfriend "I caught her in my arms, and covered her face with kisses". Male narrator describes women as having a beautiful figure, or a "fine show of the collarbone" etc. Full illustrations of ladies in low-cut gowns. Takes girl's hand to comfort her.
Religion/Hashkafa
Descriptions of Hindu religious practices and mythology including worship of gods.
Religion/Hashkafa
Minor mentions of Christianity and being a "good Christian when you don't push my Christianity too far".
Language
Language- damn you , dammed
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway, Ernest
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
(Page numbers refer to Scribner Edition)A short novel about an old fisherman and his battle with a huge fish, and his relationship with a boy who cares for him. A lot of symbolism involving the sea, some of it sexual – e.g. calls sea a “whore” (p. 35). P. 77 – “as though the ocean were making love with something under a yellow blanket”P. 36 – references to “strange love making of turtles”. P. 42 – Ch--- (Last name of JC)P. 64 – promise to say “Hail Marys’ to “our fathers” and make a pilgrimage to the virgin of Cobre.P. 65 – Hail Mary written out; talking about JC and Holy mother of god and blessed virgin, etc.P. 66 – Ch---.Language: p. 36: stupid; p. 123: damn; p. 125: hell.A few mentions of men “urinating”.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Outsiders Hinton, S.E.
Grades: -
Classic
In 1960’s, lower-class gang fights against high-class gang. When boy from high-class gang try to drown boy from low-class, his friend kills the attacker in panicked self-defence. They run away, and become heroes by saving children from fire which they started by accident. Main character tries to break from the culture of violence and find goodness.
Boy/girl relationship, Tznius and Negiah
Boys in both groups have girlfriends. It is mentioned that the girls in the lower class group (who do not appear in the story) speak with curses, and need to be be “beat off with a stick” (not explained - implying that they try to be physically affectionate). Boy from low-class becomes friends with girl from high-class; not romantic.More serious boy/girl issues are implied in passing. At a party that has both girls and boys, a boy says he was in the bedroom; when he says this, the younger boy’s ears turn red, since he has heard what goes on in bedrooms at those types of parties; older boy laughs and says he was just resting because he was injured. Boy says his girlfriend had to go live with her grandmother in Florida, because it was “either that or get married” (implying she is pregnant); later the boy is depressed because his letter to her was returned unopened, and his brother tells someone “it wasn’t him” (implying that she got pregnant from someone else). This would be totally missed by many kids, but would be explained in Cliff-type notes.
Language
Boys are described as cursing, but without specifying language. They are admired for this. “Hell” and “damn” used once or twice.
Violence
Descriptions of attacks and ‘rumble’ (group fight) between groups; overall message at end is that the violence is bad.
Street Reality, "Gritty" books
Gritty street culture.Boys in lower class group smoke from a very young age, as was common in those times. This is considered normal, and boy is surprised when a high-class man says he shouldn’t smoke. Boys from both groups drink.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Pearl Steinbeck, John
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
Classic story (short in length) of a native couple who find an enormous pearl which eventually ruins their simple but happy way of life. Many mentions of mother putting baby “to her breast”. Doctor fondly remembers his “civilized” life in France where he “had been able to keep a mistress”. Natives hope they will find a pearl if “luck and the gods might be for it.” Woman tells the priest that now that they found the pearl she and her husband “will be married now” (so what were they before? They have a child and live in the same hut). Description of sermon where priest says people should not aspire to higher stations in life “else the castle (the world) is in danger from the assaults of Hell”. When woman is scared she says “Hail Marys”.
Review Date 08/12/2022 The Phantom Tollbooth Juster, Norton
Grades: 4 - 8
Classic
A boy who is bored with life receives a magical tollbooth as a present that sends him on a journey that revitalizes his interest in learning about the world. The entire book is tongue in cheek and full of wordplay. p104 Brief mention of xmas trees
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Prince and the Pauper - The Library of America Edition Twain, Mark
Grades: 8 - 10
Classic
(Page numbers refer to the Library of America Edition). A pauper boy in a slum is born the same day as the heir to the throne of England. Lives of the lower class clearly described in detail, including hunger, filth, drunkenness, begging, robbery and abuse of children. Chapter 18 P. 114: vague allusion to "familiarities" of a band of lawless men with a farmer's daughter - not explained. Some rough language but very old fashioned - nothing very severe in modern terms. A lot of mentions of religion but depicted in a very satirical way - a crazy man believes himself to be an archangel. Call a church by J's name as a location: J___'s Church. Tragic burnings at stake described in detail.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Red Pony Steinbeck, John
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
"Series of four well-written short stories about a boy growing up on a ranch. Contains many literary elements which are ripe for discussion. Although each story is about a child, these are not stories written for children. None of the stories end happily. The final story has a somewhat hopeful ending, at least superficially, since the boy offers his sad grandfather a cup of lemonade. However, it is not clear if this is an act of generosity or an act of rebellion against his father who callously caused the grandfather’s sadness. (Throughout, the father is portrayed as rather insensitive and incapable of being a good father to his son, and the son is portrayed as somewhat rebellious). This book contains many detailed and gory descriptions of the death of various animals. Especially vivid are the deaths caused by the boy’s cruelty as well as death caused by birth complications.One mention of J-- as religious figure (intro xxvi)Two mentions of J-- used as an expletive (p. 36, 74)Language: damn (p. 48, 49, 74, 75, 78, 80) Hell (p. 63, 69)The boy takes his female horse to a neighboring ranch to be “bred” with a male horse. Some description but mostly inference (p. 57-61)"
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Scarlet Pimpernel Orczy, Baroness Emmuska
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
A beautiful French woman marries a wealthy Englishman during the time of the French Revolution, and tries to save her brother by discovering the identity of a man known as “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, who rescues French aristocracy. Language: constant use of “demmed” (damned) in a British slang sort of way , eg: “demmed marvelous”. Men and women described dancing at a ball, but not very romantically. A tame love story as a minor plot, ends in marriage. An estranged marriage described: husband and wife live in separate wings of the house, Wife tries to rekindle his “passion”. P 153 – a few descriptions that could end up in inappropriate detail, but it doesn’t . P 157 – “He would have taken her in his arms”, etc, but he didn’t. Jew described as greedy, dirty, downtrodden, of “loathsome appearance”.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Secret Garden Burnett, Frances Hodgson
Grades: 5 - 7
Generally Acceptable
A lonely unsociable child is sent to live with hunchback uncle. Magical religious hymn about father, son & holy ghost, other minor religion
Review Date 01/30/2022 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror Stevenson, Robert Louis
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
All comments are related to the Penguin Classics Edition. There are several short stories in this volume after the main story. A doctor invents a potion that causes him to transform into an evil being that represents his worst self and commits all kinds of crimes with impunity. This edition also contains shorter stories by the same author - The Body Snatcher and Ollala as well as A Chapter on Dreams and a scientific review of the story. Introduction- mentions titles of various works of horror fiction which may or may not be appropriate. Mention that some of these stories were written for the "Christmas ghost story market".pxviii- damnable young manpxix- "But what was this unspoken bad fancy tacitly understood by both Utterson and his client? These circumstances appear to be carefully plotted to point to, without actually specifying a suspicion that some erotic attachment is at the bottom of Jekyll's relationship with Hyde. Blackmail and homosexuality have a long history of association...blackmail attempts involved a threat to expose a man as a homosexual, whether or not he wer in fact gay...Oscar Wilde himself had been subject to a number of blackmail attempts, most of them by rent boys with whom he or his lover... had consorted..."pxx-"A suggestion of homosexuality provides a plausible hypothesis ...of course Stevenson could not describe or directly refer to what was called 'unnatural" and deemed unspeakable in the pages of prose fiction designed for a popular readership;, but he could, and perhaps did manipulate the expectations and suppositions of his readers who could not complain if their own imaginations had supplied what Stevenson had refused to actually state..." "...the use of legal and medical procedures and forms of knowledge (which apart from pornography, constituted almost the sole place where homosexuality was discussed in print)..."xxi- "That Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is something more than a shilling shocker, a creepy tale for Christmas 1885...the story has a much larger and deeper interest...it is a marvelous exploration into the recesses of nature... a parable with a profound allegory...based on the two fold nature of man...taught to us by the apostle Paul in Roman7...his tale provided the text for the sermon preached from the pulpit of St Paul's Cathedral...it is a fight between good and evil, duty and temptation, in the human soul, a story as old as Genesis."xxiii- Jekyll conceives of Hyde as his lower element. Whilst this is principally a moral or even metaphysical designation, it is also strongly suggested that Hyde is also lower on the evolutionary scale..a less upright individual evokes suggestions of the simian.. ape like fury... ape like spite, his bestial nature and remarks about how hairy his opposite is. This inference eventually culminates in a frightening vision of primordial immorality...this emphasis on criminality or sinfulness being a primitive condition or impulse corresponds with that found in a number of writings from the period which employed evolutionary models to understand criminality and mental disorder.xxiv-"In short, Hyde is the physical expression of moral lowness according to post Darwinian thought".xxv- "Jekyll attempt to make an absolute division between the respectable and the disreputable, the righteous and the libertine,, the social and the sensual/sexual. xxxiv-comparisons with other novels listed by title and author which may or may not be appropriateStrange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:p7- hellishp7-damnedp9-damnablep35-what an assp53-your sight shall be blasted by a prodigy to stagger the unbelief of Satanp64- the spirit of hellp67- child of hellThe Body Snatcher- a man is hired to pay for the cadavers used in medical school but eventually discovers that they are actually murder victims but he does nothing to stop itp73 - man had some "fleeting infidelities"p88-hellOlalla- a man goes to the mountains to recover and falls in love with the daughter and discovers that his hosts have a strange secretp97-suspicion that man and women didn't marry and their children are "bastards"p118 very descriptive about mother- "passive sensuality"p119- very descriptiveabout his feelings for the girl "eyes exchanging salvos of attraction" etc.p120- man wonders if what he feels for women is love or "brute attraction"p121- girl goes to the man who stretched out his arms "she leaped to me and clung to me"p124-125 man is injured and girl cares for him-he goes into detail about how he perceives her - for example- "I saw the faultless face and through the robe the lines of the faultless body" "the touch of her smooth hand lingered"p126- he kisses her handp126- she tries to convince him their relationship isn't meant to be "What am I then...if not a curve in this poor body of mine (which you love, and the sake of which you dotingly dream that you love me"p132- "it was there that one of my comrades sold himself to satan; the virgin sheild us from temptaions! He has paid the price; he is now burning in the reddest place in hell"p133- girl kneels to pray before a crucifixp134- references to yoshka as "man of sorrows" "friend of the distressed" "rays of glory encircled it"Diagnosing Jekyllp154- a multipage essay about "sexual perversion" connected to the Jekyll and Hyde story
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Swiss Family Robinson Wyss, Johann David
Grades: 6 - 8
Generally Acceptable
A very religious Christian family gets shipwrecked and make a wonderful life for selves on desert island. Lots of religion but nothing really objectionable. Very specific and painstaking details about all they did including killing animals for food and clothing; may be gory for some.
Review Date 05/24/2018 The Time Machine Wells, H.G.
Grades: 9 - 12
Classic
A man invents a time machine and travels to the future. There he finds a two class society. One group of people are beautiful innocents who spend the day having fun. The second are dark and scary and live underground and have technology. They breed the above- worlders for food. The man pondrs about how this "evolution of man" came out. This book leads to discussions about the innate goodness of man, but certainly doesn't bring G-d into the equation. The man gets attached to a female above worlder. He carries her and kisses her but it is not romantic in the strictest sense of the word- he calls it a "childish affection" chapt 2 p10 man said he was damnedchapt 2 p12 xmas (one word)chapt 3 p18 damnedchapt 8 p51 negrochapt 12 p98 damned soulschapt 16 p114 I'm damnedepilogue- metiones of various ages (that happened millions of years ago)