From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up-Nine classic stories by five late 19th and early 20th century American writers are offered in a well-produced package. William Roberts reads with clarity and emotion, accomplishing a range of voices for these character-driven stories, and bringing to life a young boy, a querulous old man, and even the few women who appear in these tales. The production quality is excellent. With the exception of Mark Twain's "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calavaras County," the unifying theme among the selections is one of suspense, often to the point of edge of the seat tension. Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," recounts the hanging of a Confederate sympathizer during the American Civil War. Stephen Crane's "The Veteran" takes place a few years later and features a man who survived that war, in spite of his fearfulness, and now demonstrates his real bravery on a firey night when horses must be rescued from a burning barn. The five stories selected to demonstrate the surprising twists to events for which O. Henry made his name include "After Twenty Years," "A Retrieved Information," "While the Auto Waits," "The Last Leaf," and "Makes the Whole World Kin." The autobiographical "Brown Wolf," by Jack London, bespeaks of the human attachment to the dog and the dog's reciprocal attachment. While the age of these stories mean that their styles are more ponderous than those of some popular contemporary writers, students will have no trouble understanding and picturing the events these authors weave. The range of characters, while mostly male, is socially broad, including several outlaws.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
William Roberts has appeared extensively in television, film and theatre - from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles to Martin Chuzzlewit and A View to a Kill. He is also a familiar voice on radio and audio with numerous dramas and audiobooks to his credit.
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