We bookish folk are a strange breed; we think nothing of eagerly looking forward to the next instalment or sequel from our favourite Authors, but moan and mutter when Hollywood brings out Mission Impossible XVI (I know we haven’t got that far yet, but it’s coming). I’ve put together a compilation of several classic stories have strange follow-ups you’ve never heard of, or if you’ve read them may wish you hadn’t.
Title ~ The Starlight Barking
Author ~ Dodie Smith
ISBN ~ 9780434964017
Publisher ~ Heinemann (October 1967)
Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians, later adapted by Disney, was declared a classic when first published in 1956. The Starlight Barking, Dodie’s own long-forgotten sequel, is a thrilling new adventure for Pongo and his family. As the story opens, every living creature except dogs is gripped by an enchanted sleep. One of the original Dalmatian puppies, all grown up since the first novel, is now the Prime Minister’s mascot. Relying on her spotted parents for guidance, she assumes emergency leadership for the canine population of England. Awaiting advice from Sirius, the Dog Star, dogs of every breed crowd Trafalgar Square to watch the evening skies. The message they receive is a disturbing proposition, one that might forever destroy their status as “man’s best friend.”
Comment ~ I have to say I love this book. The Hundred and One Dalmatians never captured my imagination as a child as much as this one; I read it so many times the cover eventually gave out, while its prequel sat untouched after on e read on my shelf.
Title ~ Messenger (The Giver Quartet #3)
Author ~ Lois Lowry
ISBN ~ 9780618404414
Publisher ~ HMH Books for Young Readers (April 26th, 2004)
Strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to new strangers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the few people able to travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter to return with him before its too late. But Forest has become hostile to Matty as well, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.
An extremely popular book for middle school students, Lois Lowry’s The Giver has become an instant classic in the 20 years since its publication. Countless children have been assigned essays about how they interpreted the book’s ambiguous ending, but they could have saved some time and just read the book’s two (with a third on the way) sequels instead.
The first sequel, Gathering Blue, is only tangentially related to The Giver by being set in the same universe. However, the following book, Messenger, ties the two together.
Title ~ Jo’s Boys
Author ~ Louisa May Alcott
ISBN ~ 9780448060132
Publisher ~ Grosset & Dunlap (October 1st, 1949: First published 1880)
Better known for her novels Little Women and Little Men, Louisa May Alcott continued the story of her feisty protagonist Jo in this final novel chronicling the adventures and misadventures of the March family. Entertaining, surprising, and overall a joy to read, Jo’s Boys is nevertheless shaded by a bittersweet tone, for with it Alcott brought her wonderful series to an end.
Beginning ten years after Little Men, Jo’s Boys revisits Plumfield, the New England school still presided over by Jo and her husband, Professor Bhaer. Jo’s boys — including rebellious Dan, sailor Emil, and promising musician Nat — are grown; Jo herself remains at the center of this tale, holding her boys fast through shipwreck and storm, disappointment… and even murder.
Popular for more than a century, the series that began with Little Women continues to hold universal appeal with its powerful and affectionate depiction of family — the safe haven where the prodigal can always return, adversity is never met alone, and our dreams of being cherished, no matter what our flaws, come true.
Comment ~ This series was another well loved set of books on my childhood bookcase, and I remember crying almost to the point of hysterics when I came to the end of Jo’s Boys knowing there would be no more.
Title ~ Closing Time
Author ~ Joseph Heller
ISBN ~ 9780671746049
Publisher ~ Simon & Schuster (October 1st, 1994)
Thirty-three years and over ten million copies later…the classic story continues.
Yossarian returns — older, if not wiser — to face a new foe.
An instant classic when published in 1961, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 still ranks among the funniest — and most serious — novels ever written about war. Now Heller has dared to write the sequel to his 10-million copy bestseller, using many of Catch-22’s characters to deftly satirize the realities and the myths of America in the half century since they fought World War II.
In Closing Time, a comic masterpiece in its own right, Heller spears the inflated balloons of our national consciousness — the absurdity of our politics, the decline of society and our great cities, the greed and hypocrisy of our business and culture — with the same ferocious humor that he used against the conventional view of warfare. Back again are characters familiar from Catch-22, including Yossarian and Milo Minderbinder, the chaplain, and little Sammy Singer, as they come to the end of their lives and the end of the century — all linked, this time, in uneasy peace and old age…fighting not the Germans, but The End.
Outrageously funny and totally serious, and as brilliant and successful as Catch-22 itself, Closing Time is a fun-house mirror that captures, at once grotesquely and accurately, the truth about ourselves
Title ~ Paradise Regained
Author ~ John Milton
ISBN ~ 9781598181678
Publisher ~ Aegypan (December 1st, 2006)
In purely poetic value, “Paradise Regained” is little inferior to its predecessor. There may be nothing in the poem that can quite touch the first two books of “Paradise Lost” for magnificence; but there are several things that may fairly be set beside almost anything in the last ten. The splendid “stand at bay” of the discovered tempter — “‘Tis true I am that spirit unfortunate” — in the first book; his rebuke of Belial in the second, and the picture of the magic banquet (it must be remembered that, though it is customary to extol Milton’s asceticism, the story of his remark to his third wife, and the Lawrence and Skinner sonnets, go the other way); above all, the panoramas from the mountaintop in the third and fourth; the terrors of the night of storm; the crisis on the pinnacle of the temple — are quite of the best Milton, which is equivalent to saying that they are of the best of one kind of poetry. — The Cambridge History of English and American Literature.
Comment ~ I have to admit I’ve not read either of these; maybe I need to rectify this.
Title ~ Tom Sawyer, Detective
Author ~ Mark Twain
ISBN ~ 9781598184891
Publisher ~ Aegypan (August 1st, 2006: first published 1896)
“Well, it was the next spring after me and Tom Sawyer set our old nigger Jim free, the time he was chained up for a runaway slave down there on Tom’s uncle Silas’s farm in Arkansaw. The frost was working out of the ground, and out of the air, too, and it was getting closer and closer onto barefoot time every day; and next it would be marble time, and next mumblety-peg, and next tops and hoops, and next kites, and then right away it would be summer and going in a-swimming. It just makes a boy homesick to look ahead like that and see how far off summer is. . . .” Huck Finn tells the tale in “Tom Sawyer, Detective” almost playing the role of a reporter, as he relates what he’s witnessed of a strangely peculiar murder, and tells us of Tom Sawyer’s scene-stealing exploits in the trial that follows. . . . Many of the characters “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” return in this tale, with delightful results
Comment ~ I was not aware there was a series, and enjoyed the Huckleberry Finn and first Tom Sawyer books. These will now be on my to read list.
Title ~ The Winds of Tara
Author ~ Katherine Pinotti
ISBN ~ 9781401063573
The Unauthorised Sequel.
The most infamous love affair of all times continues on with The Winds of Tara.
Scarlett O’Hara, headstrong and beautiful, contrives to win back the love of her estranged husband and children. Broken hearted, she returns home to Tara, only to find the plantation in jeopardy by a greedy overseer and her sister’s reputation threatened. Determined to succeed against overwhelming odds, she spins a web of lies and deceit that force her to choose between the man she loves, and breaking a solemn promise that would expose a secret that could destroy her family’s honor forever.
Margaret Mitchell’s beloved Southern romance was not only one of the most famous books of the last century, but also spawned one of the most popular films to boot. The book has four sequels, with varying levels of authenticity. The first, Scarlett, was an authorized sequel by Alexandra Ripley and was widely panned. A second that ignores Scarlett, Rhett Butler’s People, is a re-telling of the original novel from Butler’s point of view by author Donald McCraig.
Then there are the unauthorized sequels: The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall is a satirical re-telling from the perspective of an O’Hara family slave. Finally, The Winds of Tara by Katherine Pinotti is a direct sequel to the original that the Mitchell family legally blocked from publication in America.
Title ~ The Second Jungle Book
Author ~ Rudyard Kipling
ISBN ~ 9781853261350
Publisher ~ Wordsworth Classics (1994: first published 1895)
Mowgli, the man-cub who is raised by a wolf-pack, is the main character in The Second Jungle Book which contains some of the most thrilling of the Mowgli stories. It includes “Red Dog”, in which Mowgli and the python Kaa form an unlikely alliance, “How Fear Came” and “Letting in the Jungle” as well as “The Spring Running”, which brings Mowgli to manhood and the realisation that he must leave Bagheera, Baloo, and his other friends for the world of man.
Between each of these marvellously powerful stories Kipling includes some of his most stirring ballads and songs, notably “Mowgli’s Song Against People” and “The Law of the Jungle”
A year after The Jungle Book’s release, Kipling wrote a follow-up book called The Second Jungle Book, featuring five further adventures of Mowgli and his friends. Although Disney made an animated Jungle Book 2 and a live-action film called The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo, neither actually follows the plot of The Second Jungle Book.
Title ~ The Last Ring-Bearer
Author ~ Kirill Yeskov, Yisroel Markov (translator)
Publisher ~ (2010: first published 1990)
The premise of The Last Ring-Bearer is the proverb “history is written by the victors”, and that the Tolkien account is just that – the history as dictated by the victorious side. In Eskov’s version of the story, Mordor is described as a peaceful country on the verge of an industrial revolution that is a threat to the war-mongering and imperialistic faction represented by Gandalf (whose attitude has been described by Saruman as “crafting the Final Solution to the Mordorian problem”) and the elves.
The story of The Last Ring-Bearer begins at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as survivors of the defeated Mordor are organizing resistance and trying to save what they can of their civilization. Their story is mixed with another one, set hundreds of years in the future, as archaeologists in a “modern day Middle-earth” are rediscovering their true history, and finding artefacts that shine doubt on the established history known to us from The Lord of the Rings
Comment ~ To be reviewed in 2014