Believe it or not, I read this entire 100+year-old book in my car while waiting for my daughter and my son in school parking lots. What a perfectly ironic way to read a soaring imaginary adventure written by Mark Twain and mostly forgotten about by the American reading public.
My copy of this old book is a 1965 edition published for school libraries of a book written in 1894. It tells the story of how Tom and Huck and Jim steal a ride on a balloon at a town fair from a somewhat mentally unhinged professor of aeronautical science. The balloon, which has space-age travel capabilities due to the professor’s insane genius, takes them on an accidental voyage to Africa.
Of course, the insane professor intends to kill them all, because that’s what insane geniuses do after they prove how genius-y they really are. But as he tries to throw Tom into the Atlantic, he only manages to plunge himself through the sky and down to an unseen fate. The result being a great adventure for the three friends in the sands of the Sahara. They face man-eating lions, mummy-making sandstorms, and a chance to land on the head of the Sphinx.
The entire purpose of this book is to demonstrate Twain’s ability to be a satirical stretcher of the truth, telling jokes and lies through the unreliable narrator’s voice of Huck Finn.
Here is a quoted passage from the book to fill up this review with words and maybe explain just a bit what Twain is really doing with this book;
Notice how I doubled my word count there without typing any of the words myself? Isn’t the modern age wonderful?
But there you have it. This book is about escaping every-day newspaper worries. In a time of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, global warming, and renewed threats of thermonuclear boo-boos with Russia, this proved to be the perfect book to float away with on an imaginary balloon to Africa. And the book ends in a flash when Aunt Polly back in Hannibal wants Tom back in time for breakfast. I really needed to read this book when I picked it up to read it.