"There is something curious about this joyful novel," writes Jerry Griswold in his introduction. "Everyone seems to know its story... but few seem actually to have read the book." First published in 1881, The Prince and the Pauper is the story of a poor boy, Tom Canty, who exchanges clothes and identities with Edward Tudor, Prince of England. It is at once and adventure story, a fantasy of timeless appeal, and an intriguing example of the author's abiding interest in separating the true from the false, the genuine from the imposter. With characteristic humor and color, Twain brings to life the sixteenth-century royal court, the crowded, boisterous streets inhabited by London's hoi polloi, and the behaviour of two young boys.
This is an excellent historical fiction book about the swapping of two people's identities by accident. The plot is only resolved right at the end of the book, so the prince stays as the "poor" person for some time. The real poor person's lot is very funny, in that he pretends to be Prince (and then King) for some time, and at points enjoys it, and at other points hates it.
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- Reading Age: 13+
- Reading Aloud Age: 12+
Over-nasty descriptions once or twice.
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- A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, is another historical fiction novel that mentions two look alikes. It has a few descriptions of beheadings because of the French Revolution.