Little Classics: Tom Sawyer is a retelling of the Tom Sawyer story, published by the Little Classics series, which sells adaptations of public domain children's books at The Dollar Tree. While the book doesn't specifically list an intended age, it is probably intended to be read to children about 4-5, or read by children from 5-7. I am not sure about the reading and interest level: I have a degree in adult education for a reason. The book is a 24 page picture book whose illustrations feature characters with friendly, cartoonish faces. This makes Tom Sawyer and company look younger and friendlier than we would usually imagine, with Tom and company looking a little like Dora the Explorer.
So you might wonder: how do we cover all of Tom Sawyer in 24 illustrated pages? Whitewashing the fence? Check. Witnessing his own funeral? Check. Discovering hidden gold? Check. And that brings us to Page 24. And here, the reader of this review might wonder: goodness, how do you rewrite witnessing your own funeral in a picture book for kindergartners? Well, in this case, Tom and company just interrupted their elders wondering where they were because they had been gone overnight, and saying how much they missed them. In general, it is safe to say this book kind of skipped over most of Mark Twain's dark comedy. Even the whitewash episode is a bit...whitewashed, focusing on Tom's cherubic delight with getting to play with toys, and not on him manipulating his peers.
So, in what is probably not a shocking revelation, this book fails to convey the irony and pathos of Mark Twain's work. Even the book's art shows a town that is much crisper and chirpier than the poor town that Tom Sawyer lived in, looking more like a genteel New England village than a scrappy frontier settlement. Without Mark Twain's barbed sense of humor, Tom Sawyer is basically Dennis the Menace. To be fair to the "Little Classics" company, most of their picture books seem to be things that are much more easily translated into 24 page picture books, such as fairy tales. And also to be fair, for many readers, the episodes in Tom Sawyer have already been decontextualized and sanitized, with the stories passing into popular knowledge without much understanding of the overall point of the story.