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The Pioneers

The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper

The Pioneers by James Fenimore Cooper

The Pioneers: The Sources of the Susquehanna; a Descriptive Tale is one of the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper.
The story takes place on the rapidly advancing frontier of New York State and features a middle-aged Leatherstocking (Natty Bumppo), Judge Marmaduke Temple of Templeton, whose life parallels that of the author’s father Judge William Cooper, and Elizabeth (the author Susan Cooper), of Cooperstown. The story begins with an argument between the Judge and the Leatherstocking over who killed a buck, and as Cooper reviews many of the changes to his fictional Lake Otsego, questions of environmental stewardship, conservation, and use prevail. The plot develops as the Leatherstocking and Chingachgook begin to compete with the Temples for the loyalties of a young visitor, Oliver Effingham. Effingham eventually marries Elizabeth. Chingachgook dies, exemplifying the vexed figure of the “dying Indian,” and Natty vanishes into the sunset. For all its strange twists and turns, ‘The Pioneers’ may be considered one of the first ecological novels in the United States.

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Jimbo

Jimbo by Algernon Blackwood

Jimbo by Algernon Blackwood

A supernatural fantasy about the mystical adventures of a lonely English boy named Jimbo–who can fly! It’s really quite beautiful and can be enjoyed by adults and teenagers alike. Be warned, however: The death of a beloved character and a creepy old house haunted by the wraith-like spirits of children makes some of this story far too scary for younger kids or indeed anyone of a sensitive disposition.

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Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Follows the fortunes of the son of a noble Saxon family in Norman England as he woos his lady, disobeys his father, and is loved by another. Set in late 12C England and in Palestine with Richard Lionheart at the Crusades, it’s another ripping historical yarn by Scott

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Action/Adventure Books

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is one of the truly great American novels, beloved by children, adults, and literary critics alike. The book tells the story of “Huck” Finn (first introduced as Tom Sawyer’s sidekick in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer), his friend Jim, and their journey down the Mississippi River on a raft. Both are on the run, Huck from his drunk and abusive father, and Jim as a runaway slave.

The book is noted for its colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River, and its sober and often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism. The drifting journey of Huck and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, down the Mississippi River on their raft may be one of the most enduring images of escape and freedom in all of American literature.

The book has been popular with young readers since its publication, and taken as a sequel to the comparatively innocuous The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It has also been the continued object of study by serious literary critics. Although the Southern society it satirized was already a quarter-century in the past by the time of publication, the book immediately became controversial, and has remained so to this day.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was unique at the time of its publication because it is narrated by Huck himself and is written in the numerous dialects common in the area and time in which the book is set. Although the book was originally intended as a sequel to the children’s book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, as Twain wrote Adventures of Huckleberry Finn it progressed into a more serious work. Twain’s views on slavery and other social issues of the time become clear through the words, thoughts, and actions of Huck Finn.