Literary Classics

Animal Farm

George Orwell's fable of a workers' revolution gone wrong. Fueled by Orwell's intense disillusionment with Soviet Communism, Animal Farm is a nearly perfect piece of writing, both an engaging story and an allegory that actually works. Orwell's view of Communism is bleak indeed, but given the history of the Russian people since 1917, his pessimism has an air of prophecy.--Joyce Thompson



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Bambi: A Life in the Woods

This 1926 classic has been stretched and squeezed into many forms over the years, but the Felix Salten original should not be missed. With the richer, more highly wrought language of his time, Salten crafts a story layered in meaning, weighty with its message. The sometimes cruel, often joyful cycle of life continues, in spite of those who try to defy nature's law. --Emilie Coulter



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Charlotte's Web

Children's novel by E.B. White, published in 1952, with illustrations by Garth Williams. One of the classics of children's literature, this widely read tale takes place on a farm in Maine and concerns a pig named Wilbur and his devoted friend Charlotte, the spider who manages to save his life by writing words in her web. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature



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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

This unusual novel, winner of the Newbery Medal (among a host of other accolades) snags the reader on page one and reels in steadily all the way through to the exhilarating conclusion. Robert O'Brien has created a small but complete world in which a mother's concern for her son overpowers her fear of all her natural enemies and allows her to make some extraordinary discoveries along the way. O'Brien's incredible tale, along with Zena Bernstein's appealing ink drawings, ensures that readers will never again look at alley rats and field mice in the same way. --Emilie Coulter
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The Jungle Book

Collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1894. The stories tell mostly of Mowgli, an Indian boy who is raised by wolves from infancy and who learns self-sufficiency and wisdom from the jungle animals. The book describes the social life of the wolf pack and, more fancifully, the justice and natural order of life in the jungle. Among the animals whose tales are related in the work are Akela the wolf; Baloo the brown bear; Shere Khan, the boastful Bengal tiger who is Mowgli's enemy; Kaa the python; Bagheera the panther; and Rikki-tikki-tavi the mongoose. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
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The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit captures the sweet mischief of childhood in a story that endears itself to young readers. In the classic style of fables, this story uses animals and their antics to teach a valuable life lesson. By describing Peter Rabbits insatiable hunger for cabbage and carrot, this speaks to young children about keeping their hands out of the cookie jar.


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Sirius

Sirius is Thomas Trelone's great experiment - a huge, handsome dog with the brain and intelligence of a human being. Raised and educated in Trelone's own family alongside Plaxy, his youngest daughter, Sirius is a truly remarkable and gifted creature. His relationship with the Trelones, particularly with Plaxy, is deep and close, and his inquiring mind ranges across the spectrum of human knowledge and experience. But Sirius isn't human and the conflicts and inner turmoil that torture him cannot be resolved.

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Watership Down

Watership Down has been a staple of high-school English classes for years. Despite the fact that it's often a hard sell at first, Richard Adams's bunny-centric epic rarely fails to win the love and respect of anyone who reads it, regardless of age. Like most great novels, Watership Down is a rich story that can be read on many different levels. The book is often praised as an allegory, with its analogs between human and rabbit culture but it's equally praiseworthy as just a corking good adventure. Watership Down will continue to make the transition from classroom desk to bedside table for many generations to come. --Paul Hughes
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Wind in the Willows

Since 1903, the escapades of Mole, his friend Water Rat, shy Badger, and Toad of Toad Hall have delighted children, and adults, too. Follow the winning foursome through the seasons as they sail the river, get lost in the Wild Wood, take off on a merry adventure in Toad’s colorful carriage, and rescue Toad Hall from a band of nasty marauding weasels.



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