The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher

by Jessica Lawson
Published by Dreamscape
Young Adult

School Library Journal Starred Review

It’s 1860, and 11-year-old Becky Thatcher has just moved to St. Petersburg, Missouri. She’s looking for big-time adventure in this small town, and once she meets Sid Sawyer, it doesn’t take her long to find it. Pretty soon, she’s sneaking out after dark, stealing graveyard dirt at midnight, and keeping an eye out for dead cats to help her win a bet. The only obstacle standing between her and even more excitement is goody-goody tattletale Tom Sawyer. This fast-paced tale is the perfect introduction to Mark Twain’s classic characters, but readers who are already familiar with Tom, Sid, Becky, and the Widow Douglas will also appreciate this imaginative, pitch-perfect spin on their classic adventures. Narrator Tavia Gilbert does a phenomenal job. She portrays each character with a different voice, giving the impression that the novel is read by an entire cast of narrators instead of just one person. This fast-paced story is perfect for historical fiction and adventure fans. School Library Journal


Set in 1860, Lawson’s debut novel (inspired by Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn tales) concentrates on mischievous 11-year-old Becky Thatcher, a new arrival in Hannibal, Missouri. Tomboy Becky and best friend Amy Lawrence spy on grave robbers and help clear theft accusations against Widow Douglas. Riverboat pilot Samuel Clemens and Tom Sawyer (a “friendless tattletale”) have small roles. Gilbert reads Thatcher in consistent high-pitched tones tinged with a southern accent, apparently reflective of Missourians. Becky’s voice quavers and whimpers during appropriate moments, especially when she is scared or lying. Clemens and other males speak in a lower register, and Gilbert uses an adult speaking voice to read an interesting concluding author’s note that explains the origins of the novel and the ways the characters’ motives and personalities are different than Twain’s interpretations. Although this may not live up to Twain’s storytelling, it is a fun adventure with a feisty girl character at center stage. Booklist