A Nashville couple is crowdfunding the first printing of a new collection of classic literature–that’s just for kids! Meet Baxter–Bax for short. Bax is a precocious, inquisitive kid who is a little bored with kids books. Eyeing the dusty, adult classics on the top shelf, Bax dreams of more. Wendy and Steven Martin created a series called Bax Classics that makes these books accessible to kids.
They’ve written and illustrated three volumes already. In each, friends of Bax find themselves in a dilemma “whereupon Bax’s wiley imagination pushes things off the rails, whisking everyone into the wondrous world of a classic!” says the project’s Kickstarter. It’s not so much about retelling the stories precisely, but rather about making the themes and lessons accessible to a new audience with three beautifully illustrated volumes.
For example, Volume 1 centers on a reading classroom that is stuck in a rut of predictability. Bax persuades the teacher to crack open his own copy of Moby Dick, and the class enters a high seas adventure. In Volume 2, Bax tries to out-scare his sister Hattie by summoning the spectres of Jane Eyre‘s Gateshead and Thornfield. In Volume 3, Bax transforms his friend’s regular old rendering of Cinderella by introducing Dickens’ Abel Magwitch and bringing Great Expectations to life.*
“With this kid-centered approach,” Wendy Martin explains, “we’re about to bring kids into themes of classic literature while keeping it really relatable, and that’s something we don’t often see in adaptations of classics.” What can little kids learn from the classics? The perils of obsession, the courage it takes to be loved, the unexpected nature of kindness? Yep, and lots more to boot.
They’ve also worked with educators to create a teaching curriculum that pairs the stories with quotations from the classics themselves, exposing kids to the language of the masters. There will be an app, too!
Their Kickstarter offers generous prizes. At $25, they’ll send you the hardcover of Volume 1 featuring Moby Dick, the PDF, and the curriculum. Educators will love the $75 bundle of all three hardcovers, PDFs, a media enhanced curriculum for classroom use, plus a Bax bookbag.
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[This blogger one threw a Danbury High School copy of Great Expectations at dear Mrs. Paonessa’s blackboard in the ninth grade and could have used a relatable access point even at the supposedly mature age of 16.]