Saturday, April 2, 2011

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE, in which Huck agrees to be respectable

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE on Project Gutenberg

Tom draws his understanding of pirates and robbers from sensational stories in “dime novels.” As the name suggests, these were cheap paperbacks; they originated across the sea in Britain as “penny dreadfuls,” indicating how cheap they were and how low-brow they were considered to be. 

Your mission for this chapter:

Using the website below, answer the following question.  After perusing the covers and chapters of various books, what types of stories were in these books, besides Tom’s pirates and robbers? (Give at least two different types.)

P.S. Remember all the treasure Tom and Huck found?  Here's a fun fact: $12,000 dollars in 1844 would equal $355,000 in today’s world!

Friday, April 1, 2011

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR, in which Widow Douglas hosts a party

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR on Project Gutenberg

Table manners have a long history, dating back to the Greek and Roman societies.  Each culture has its own rules regulating not only how a meal is served, but also how one behaves and one speaks at the table, including superstitions concerning dropping utensils! 

Your mission for this chapter:

Using the website below, answer the following question. In medieval Europe, not only were there rituals for eating a meal, there were also rituals for what two things?

OR, for a double dog dare:

Emily Post, famed for her knowledge of manners during the early half of the 20th century, answered many questions about proper dining etiquette in American society.  And while some rules have changed for modern times, many are the same or similar to what Aunt Polly or the Widow Douglas might expect of Tom and Sid. 

For this mission, answer this question:

According to Emily Post, how should you react to realizing something you ate tastes terrible?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE, in which Tom and Huck return to the cave

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE on Project Gutenberg

The stalactite for Injun Joe’s cup had been formed over the centuries of history. Mark Twain mentions a few notable historic events, including “when the Conqueror created the British Empire.” This refers to William the Conqueror who defeated the Anglo-Saxons in 1066 and combined their little kingdoms into one empire. 

Your mission for this chapter:

Using this website:, answer the following question.  What was a trencher? (HINT: The Normans)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO, in which Becky and Tom come home and recover

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO on Project Gutenberg

Becky and Tom both must take time to recover after their adventures in the cave--weeks, in fact.  On top of dehydration and inanition (exhaustion from lack of food), the duo suffered fatigue.  This combination, then and today, could prove deadly but could also be survived. 

Your mission for this chapter:
According to this article from the Discovery Channel, what is “the name of the game” when combating fatigue?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE, in which Becky and Tom search for an escape

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE on Project Gutenberg

Throughout the centuries, bats fascinated humans as creatures of the night and inspired fear and haunting folklore.  However, most bats eat insects which harm crops and pollinate vegetation; only three species of vampire bat exist, all three in Latin America, and even then they are useful to humans. 

Your mission for this chapter:
Explore this Introduction to Bats and answer this question.  What tree in Africa is dependent on bats for survival?

CHAPTER THIRTY, in which the town realizes Becky and Tom are lost in the cave

CHAPTER THIRTY on Project Gutenberg

Most people remember them by their spelling: stalagmites come from the ground, and stalactites hang from the ceiling.  Stalagmites and stalactites form by deposits, the slow drip of calcite-rich water, developing over eons.  However, one cave formation occurs from erosion. 

Your mission for this chapter:
With the website below, answer the following question.  What are formations occuring from erosion called?

Monday, March 28, 2011

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE, in which Huck saves the widow

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE on Project Gutenberg

Tom convinces Becky to visit the Widow with the prospect of ice cream, an especially delicious treat during the hot and humid Missouri summer. 

Your mission for this chapter:  Using the website below, answer the following question.  Who came up with the first ice cream machine? (Bonus: When was the waffle cone introduced?)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT, in which Tom and Huck stake out the tavern

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT on Project Gutenberg

Before electricity or even the prevalent use of gaslight, lanterns and candles were the only means of seeing after the sun set.  New Englanders discovered the bayberry bush contained wax which worked better than tallow, the fat from animals, for burning. 

Your mission for this chapter:
What other discovery aided in making the use of candles less dirty?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN, in which Tom and Huck decide what to do

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN on Project Gutenberg

The currency of the United States has shifted as history changed the needs and demands for ready cash.  During the Civil War, when all metals were diverted to the war effort, the U.S. Treasury issued “fractional money,” or paper money to represent the value of a coin.  General Francis E. Spinner conceived this idea, as well as many others and was considered a hero. 

Your mission for this chapter:
What did Spencer M. Clark manage to do when he worked at the Treasury and what did Congress do thereafter? (HINT: After looking at the showcases, Tour Historical Context.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX, in which Injun Joe finds the treasure

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX on Project Gutenberg

Injun Joe and his partner agree to leave St. Petersburg and head out for Texas.  At the time, Texas was not part of the union but it had already broken away from Mexico and existed as its own republic.  Since it was not part of the United States, Texas provided an escape for criminals and those wishing to avoid the long arm of the law. 

Your mission for this chapter:

Using this website:, answer the following question.  What were the two capitals of Texas and for whom were they named? 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Picket Fence Reading List

During the performances of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, our audiences created our own picket fence by decorating a slat with their favorite book.  These pickets made a fence which stretched up and down both sides of our staircase in the Mainstage lobby.  We've finally compiled a list of all the books from the 250+ pickets we recieved and now present to you The Picket Fence Reading List!

* indicates that this book was on multiple pickets
(#) indicates the number of times the title was mentioned

Note: Individual titles are listed separately from book series. Also, not all titles have the author listed as it was not written on the picket and the specific book is unclear (some books share titles, the picket had an incomplete title, etc). 

1.                  The Fairy Rebel by Lynn Reid Banks
2.                  Swim! Swim! By Lerch
3.                  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4.                  Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5.                  Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
6.                  Dark Diaries by Anthony Masters
7.                  A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
8.                  Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini
9.                  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
10.              I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
11.              In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
12.              Fire Girl by Jamie Worth
13.              The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer
14.              Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
15.              Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown and Scott Nash
16.              The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
17.              The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
18.              The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
19.              Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
20.              Four Perfect Pebbles by Lila Perl and Marion Blumenthal Lazan
21.              The Dream Stealer by Gregory Maguire or Sid Freischman (We’re not sure which one!)
22.              Ruthie’s Gift by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
23.              A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg
24.              Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks by  Calef Brown
25.              Purplicious by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann
26.              The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and J. Alison James
27.              Candy Fairies by Helen Perelman
28.              The Hungry Thing by Jan Slepian, Ann Seidler, and Richard E. Martin
29.              Yo Yo Love by Daaimah S. Poole
30.              Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett
31.              The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer
32.              Watership Down by Richard Adams
33.              The Doll Shop Downstairs by Yona Zeldis McDonough
34.              Hoot by Carl Hiassen
35.              Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
36.              Charlie Bone and the Time Twister by Jenny Nimmo
37.              Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
38.              The Song of Roland by Anonymous (various editions exist with co-authors)
39.              Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
40.              Peak by Roland Smith
41.              Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
42.              Horton Hatches the Egg! by Dr. Seuss
43.              Puppy Place by Ellen Miles
44.              Rapunzel’s Revenge by Dean Hale, Shannon Hale, and Nathan Hale
45.              Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
46.              A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
47.              The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
48.              The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
49.              Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
50.              Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
51.              Once Upon a Crime by Michael Buckley
52.              Gargoyles of Gaylord by Johnathan Rand
53.              The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
54.              American Girl (series)
55.              The Three Thieves and the Tower of Treasure by Scott Chantler
56.              Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
57.              Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
58.              Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creeck
59.              James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
60.              Lego-Knights Books by Michael Anthony Steele
61.              Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
62.              Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
63.              Horrible Harry by Suzy Kline
64.              Ten Ways to Make My Sister Disappear by Norma Fox Mazer
65.              The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
66.              N.E.R.D.S. by Michael Buckley
67.              One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
68.              Witch and Wizard by James Patterson
69.              Ready Freddy by Abby Klein
70.              The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
71.              Most Wanted by Kate Thompson
72.              The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco
73.              The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
74.              My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
75.              Marley and the Kittens by John Grogan
76.              How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
77.              Spy X: The Code by Peter Lerangis
78.              Tomie de Paola—This is an author.  Search your library for de Paola’s books!
79.              Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
80.              In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
81.              How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor
82.              Sky: The Blue Fairy by Daisy Meadows
83.              The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone
84.              Magyk by Angie Sage
85.              Holly the Christmas Fairy by Daisy Meadows
86.              The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
87.              The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
88.              The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin
89.              Graceling by Kristin Cashore
90.              Go Long! by Tiki and Ronde Barber
91.              Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
92.              Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
93.              Heidi by Johanna Spyri
94.              Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner
95.              Chesapeake by James A. Michener
96.              Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan
97.              Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
98.              Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
99.              If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Joffe Numeroff
100.          Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
101.          Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
102.          The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
103.          Trains by Byron Barton
104.          My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald
105.          The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
106.          Tithe by Holly Black
107.          Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
108.          Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and Pat Schories
109.          Ralph S. Mouse series by Beverly Cleary
110.          Life of Pi by Yann Martel
111.          The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman and Marla Frazee
112.          The Cheerios Counting Book by Will Mcgrath and Barbara Mcgrath
113.          All But My Life by Gerda Weissman Klein
114.          How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier
115.          Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
116.          Walden by Henry David Thoreau
117.          Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
118.          Owls of Ga’hoole by Kathryn Lasky
119.          Guardians of Ga’hoole by Kathryn Lasky
120.          Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine by Barbara Park
121.          The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
122.          Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
123.          The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
124.          The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3) by Rick Riordan
125.          Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
126.          Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
127.          Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
128.          Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
129.          The Bible * (2)
130.          Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White* (2)
131.          Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin* (2)
132.          Maximum Ride by James Patterson* (2)
133.          The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain* (2)
134.          Star Wars* (2)
135.          Warriors by Erin Hunter* (2)
136.          Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach* (2)
137.          Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli* (3)
138.          The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain* (5)
139.          The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan* (5)
140.          Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney* (11)
141.          Matilda by Roald Dahl* (3)
142.          I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 by Lauren Tarshis and Scott Dawson* (2)
143.          Geronimo Stilton series by Elisabetta Dami* (3)
144.          The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan* (8)
145.          The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 5) by Rick Riordan* (3)
146.          Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan* (2)
147.          Rules by Cynthia Lord * (3)
148.          Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss* (2)
149.          The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis* (3)
150.          Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park and Denise Brunkus* (6)
151.          The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling* (11)
152.          Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling* (3)
153.          Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osborne* (4)
154.          The 39 Clues Series by Rick Riordan* (2)
155.          The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton* (2)
156.          The Giver by Lois Lowry* (2)
157.          The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks* (2)
158.          The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien* (2)
159.          Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz* (2)

For these books, we either couldn’t find a matching author or more than one exists.  Go discover a new book for yourself!
1.                  Colden
2.                  World War 2
3.                  The Civil War
4.                  Roman Army
5.                  AF Mine
6.                  Cats and How They Live
7.                  Ariel and the Missing Music Box
8.                  Fairy Books* (2)
9.                  King Arthur
10.              Stage Fright (Wow! Quite a few books share this title.  Check them out for yourself to decide a favorite!)
11.              The First Day of School
12.              Blue
13.              The Best Book
14.              The Name of This Secret  Hmmm…perhaps The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch?

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE, in which Tom and Huck hunt for buried treasure

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE on Project Gutenberg

The blue light Tom and Huck expect to see in the “ha’nted house” would have, in their eyes, indicated the presence of a spirit or otherworldly creature.  European folklore tells of a similar sensation, an ignis fatuus (Latin for foolish fire), also called a Will-o’-the-wisp. 

Your mission for this chapter:
Using this website:'-the-wisp, answer the following question: What is the Americanized version of the Will-o'-the-wisp folk story?

Feel like that that's no challenge? Here's another double dog dare bonus question:

The word “hieroglyph” comes from the Greek and means “sacred carving.”  In Egypt, thoughts were first written with hieroglyphics, rather than an alphabet like English or Russian or Greek.  Egyptian hieroglyphs were nearly impossible to decipher as each image could represent an object, a sound, or a concept. 

Use this website: to answer the following question:
 What discovery finally allowed archeologists to understand this ancient writing?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR, in which Tom gets immortalized in print

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR on Project Gutenberg

Newspapers were quite popular in Mark Twain’s youth.  They signified that a town was established and the population educated.  When he worked at newspapers, first as an apprentice, then for his brother Orion, Twain would fill space with humorous stories and anecdotes.  Despite the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg, newspapers were slow in arriving and disseminating the news. 

Your mission for this chapter:

Using this website:, answer the following question.  Which country passed the first law protecting freedom of the press, and when?

FUN FACT: After his father died when he was twelve, Samuel Clemens was apprenticed to the local newspaper.  When his brother Orion returned home from his job as a journeyman at a newspaper in St. Louis, Orion began a second newspaper, The Hannibal Journal, and hired his younger brother to work for him.  Sam assisted and sometimes wrote humorous sketches, one of which even appeared in Eastern newspapers in 1852—“The Dandy Frightening the Squatter.” Once, when Orion had to leave town and left young Sam in charge, Sam took the opportunity to add some flavor to the Journal signing one sketch with his first pseudonym, “W. Epaminodnas Adrastus Perkins.”  Though his antics momentarily captured the town’s attention, his brother was less than pleased and issued a retraction upon his return.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE, in which Tom and Huck visit Muff Potter in jail

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE on Project Gutenberg

Guiltily, Tom and Huck remember the help Muff gave them, in particular with their kites and fishing lines.  Kites have been around for centuries and have played prominent roles in some of mankind’s greatest achievements. 

Your mission for this chapter:

How did ten-year-old Homan Walsh use a kite to change history? (HINT: Use the HISTORY section)

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO, in which Tom gets the measles

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO on Project Gutenberg

Your mission for this chapter:

Measles has been a deadly disease for centuries.  What are the earliest recordings of measles outbreaks and when was the first vaccine available?

Use this website:

FUN FACT:  Mark Twain as a boy not only had the measles, he went to great pains to get them! Read the excerpt from his Autobiography for his account of how he caught the disease and how he survived here.  Start on page 168 with the paragraph that begins, "In 1845, when I was ten years old..."

Monday, March 21, 2011

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE, in which Examination Day takes place

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE on Project Gutenberg

During the Examinations, various students recite famous and rather long speeches and poetry.  One boy began “The boy stood upon the burning deck,” which commemorates the life of a young boy who died during battle. 

Your mission for this chapter:

Read the whole poem (and think about trying to memorize it!) then answer: What was the battle?

Use this website:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

CHAPTER TWENTY, in which Becky ruins the Master's book

CHAPTER TWENTY on Project Gutenberg

Books were rare and expensive items the further one traveled away from the northeast, where all the printing houses were located.  Books could be found by ordering through the mail or sometimes at the general store in town. 
Your mission for this chapter:

Using this website:
answer the following question. 
Cash became scarce the further one traveled west, so storekeepers would also barter with their neighbors.  What three values were placed on items?

Friday, March 18, 2011

CHAPTER NINETEEN, in which Aunt Polly finds the bark message

CHAPTER NINETEEN on Project Gutenberg

Tree bark not only serves as makeshift paper but also can be used to make a canoe.  Ideally, a canoe would be built from a long piece of birch bark, but smaller pieces could be used. 

Your mission for this chapter:

How would the smaller pieces be joined together in building a canoe?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN, in which Alfred pours ink on Tom's book

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN on Project Gutenberg

Alfred ruins Tom’s book in a fit of revenge by pouring ink over the page, rendering it unusable.  Destroying a book, especially in such a careless way, would be considered a shameful and, worse, wasteful action.  Ink dates back to 2500 B.C. 

Your mission for this chapter:

Read about one class’s science experiment in recreating iron-gall ink and then tell us: What is a gall?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, in which the pirates enjoy their own funeral

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN on Project Gutenberg

Throughout centuries, bells have rung as a part of daily life—calls to order, announcing the time of day or a celebration or a funeral.  In some times, bells were thought to have divine power or the ability to ward off evil spirits. 

Your mission for this chapter:

What city in 1502 and 1514 used bells to try and quell a tempest?


Feel like a double dog dare challenge?  Then go for this mission, too!

Made famous by Ernest Hemingway’s novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, in 1624 John Donne wrote a meditation on the tolling of the bells which announced a death. 

The mission:
To what does Donne compare “any man’s death?”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CHAPTER SIXTEEN, in which the trio play games on Jackson's Island

CHAPTER SIXTEEN on Project Gutenberg

Games in the world of Tom Sawyer relied on imagination or objects that could be easily found or made.  Marbles, a popular object for games, were sometimes called “muddies.”

Your mission for this chapter:

Why were some marbles known as "muddies"?

CHAPTER FIFTEEN, in which Tom swims back home

CHAPTER FIFTEEN on Project Gutenberg

Steamboats carried news and goods up and down the Mississippi river to St. Petersburg from St. Louis and beyond.  Steam propels the paddles to move the boat along. 

Your mission for this chapter:

Using this website, answer this:
What else did the steam power on steamboats?

Monday, March 14, 2011

CHAPTER FOURTEEN, in which the trio awake on Jackson's Island

CHAPTER FOURTEEN on Project Gutenberg

Insects, fish, and woodland animals populate Jackson's Island.  Tom spends the early morning hours fascinatedly watching the natural world. 

Your mission for this chapater:

Dragonflies populate the Mississippi River and can be as small as one inch long.  That said, can dragonflies bite humans?  (HINT: Read about each sort of dragonfly.)

Use this website:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Picket Fence

If you've seen The Adventures of Tom Sawyer here at People's Light, then you've seen our picket fence in the lobby.  Hopefully, you even added to it.  If you haven't seen it in awhile, here's how much we've grown!

We started out on our Big Read Kick Off with a few examples, mostly from the staff...

Then we started working our way up the staircase of the Mainstage lobby...

...and moved up the banister...

...and just KEPT GROWING!!!

Now, we've covered both sides of most of the staircase!  

But don't stop now! 
Keep making pickets for our fence when you come see
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer this weekend!

CHAPTER THIRTEEN, in which Tom, Huck, and Joe become pirates

CHAPTER THIRTEEN on Project Gutenberg

The boys rename themselves with pirate names perfect for their new life.  Tom probably read these names in adventure books.  Tales of pirates or Robin Hood were clearly his favorites.  He calls himself "Tom Sawyer, the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main."  The Spanish Main was an actual location, but today we know it by another name.

Your mission for this chapter:

Tell us what the Spanish Main was using this website: