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Tom Sawyer: A One Hour Classic - Audio Book Download Review by Melissa Cummings

Steve Cook
Five Talents Audio

If you want to close your eyes and feel like you are walking along the Mississippi River in the mid-1800s, it's time to download Tom Sawyer: A One Hour Classic, gather the family together, and hit play. With over 15 unique voices--and only occasional difficulties with discerning who the speaker is when some of the voices sound remarkably similar--Steve Cook provides characterizations that are fun, compelling, and even comical at times, in his own very animated style. While it is hard to tell if his dialects are consistent throughout, they sure are catchy and amusing, and it's honestly impressive to see how one person can make such a familiar story so completely absorbing to listen to. It inspires me to enhance and adjust my own read-aloud skills! Produced in Cook's home studio, this audio classic is complete with wonderful dramatics, appropriate music, and convincing sound effects throughout, which makes it easy to lose yourself in the midst of this traditional tale. This is truly a great introduction to--or reminder of--the stories of Tom Sawyer by classic author Mark Twain.

Follow Tom's adventures--from whitewashing Aunt Polly's fence, to braving a graveyard at midnight with his friend Huck, to exploring caves and getting lost with Becky, to testifying in a murder trial, to surprisingly successful treasure hunting. There is just never a dull moment in adventurous young Tom's life. Mischievous and cunning, humorous and clever, these tales are accessible to boys and girls, both young and old. During the murder and subsequent scenes with Injun Joe, especially with the accompanying appropriate dramatizations, the recording could be a bit intense for the youngest of listeners. As with the book itself, Tom Sawyer is probably most appropriate for those over the age of ten, but as long as issues are discussed and things like respect, obedience, and honesty are explained to your child afterward--or as the story brings up such topics--it could be appropriate for just about any age.

The entire recording fits nicely into a 75-minute time slot, or it can be broken up by tracks--there are 16 of them--into different sessions. As with a tangible book, it's easy to keep your place and pick back up where you left off, thanks to the handy track list PDF that is included with the download. While I tend to prefer holding hard copies of books in my hand to read on my own, this is a particularly great rendition of a classic that can go with you anywhere and be enjoyed by many people at once, whether you are listening in the car, at home, or in a classroom setting.

Available as an mp 3 download for $10 (which is obviously more of an investment than just going to the library for a readable copy of the complete Tom Sawyer adventures), this product is well worth the price because of its versatility, repeatability, and simple fun.

Product review by Melissa Cummings, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2011