Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle

Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle

Dover Children's Thrift Classics
by Washington Irving
Publisher: Dover Publications
Mass market paperback, 75 pages
Price: $3.00

Unabridged, in easy-to-read type.

Taking place in Tarrytown, this book tells the story of schoolmaster Ichabod Crane, a Connecticut native, who comes to teach in a one-room schoolhouse. He becomes the neighborhood song master, reads Cotton Mather, steeps himself in local folklore, and competes with Brom Bones for the affections of Katrina. One afternoon, after being rebuffed by Katrina, he briskly rides off on his landlord's horse, sees an apparition of a headless horseman, and is never seen again in Sleepy Hollow. The townspeople have a myriad of theories concerning his disappearance.

Rip Van Winkle is the short tale of a henpecked man who is very much liked by the townspeople, but is a failure as a farmer and family man. He journeys up the mountains one afternoon with his dog and stumbles upon a strangely dressed group of men who offer him a drink that puts him to sleep for 20 years. The world to which he awakens is greatly changed.

The language is archaic and patronizing to women and blacks, although it is was appropriate to the time. The action takes place after a great deal of description, and middle schoolers may miss the tongue-in-cheek humor. That said, these classic tales are steeped in atmosphere and reveal a great deal about the social and political history of the time.

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