Did anybody else have a set of Great Illustrated Classics growing up? I’ve realized that there are lots of classic stories I’ve never actually read, but I know the plots because I read the abridged version as a kid. My brother and I had a big box of Great Illustrated Classics, and they were our first exposure to stories like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Huckleberry Finn. I remember that, for a few years, it seemed to matter whose bookshelf each of these books got to live on. Some of the books were free to travel back and forth between my brother’s room and mine, but we both had our favorites that stayed in our rooms on a permanent basis. This week’s list is my Top Five Great Illustrated Classics!
|1. Little Women. I can still close my eyes and see the illustrations from this book. Jo had the most amazing hair. I loved Beth, got annoyed with Amy, and never quite understood why Jo and Laurie couldn’t make it work. I read the unabridged in middle or high school, along with a few others by Louisa May Alcott, but I’ve never tried any of the others that she wrote about the March sisters.|
|2. The Merry Adventure of Robin Hood. I’ve always liked Robin Hood stories. This story is a little different, because there is no Maid Marian. But all the other great stuff is still there – Friar Tuck, Little John, and the Sherriff of Nottingham. Again, I loved the pictures throughout, and I feel like the costume designers must have been looking at this when they designed Cary Elwes’ look for “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.”|
|3. The Wizard of Oz. I read this version so many times and seen the movie, but I’ve never read the unabridged version. I remember liking the idea of Dorothy’s sparkly shoes and the idea of the Emerald City.|
|4. Around the World in 80 Days. I think what I liked so much about this book was the racing element, and the idea of switching back and forth between boats and trains. I realize now that it seems like something the guys on Top Gear would do for a Christmas special. I think I might actually enjoy reading the “real” version now.|
|5. The Three Musketeers. I loved all the sword fighting and scheming from this book. I remember being fascinated by Milady de Winter and her fleur-de-lis tattoo. I also remember being really confused as to why the book wasn’t called “The Four Musketeers” if it was a story about d’Artagnan and his three friends.|