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on April 8, 2006
We have the soundtrack for Les Miserables, and my children (1st & 2nd grade) were extremely interested in the storyline. My son was fascinated by the idea of social injustice, of a Bishop actually lying/sinning to save Jean Valjean and turn him into an honest man, of poor little Cosette's misery, of Eponine's unselfish love for Marius, of the student rebellion on behalf of the misery of the masses, of what could have possibly motivated Javert to kill himself, etc... He asked so many thoughtful questions, trying to understand this story. He actually pulled down my 1000+ pages, unabridged version of Les Miserables and tried to read the first few pages!

I promised him I would try to find a version of the story just right for a 2nd grader, although I said it was very unlikely. Then I searched Amazon and found this little gem of a book. He absolutely loved it and read it several times the first day it arrived. As you can imagine, much IS lost by transforming a 1000+ page, tiny font book into a 100 page, largish font book. However, there is no way a 2nd grader can possibly appreciate the original, and he thoroughly enjoyed this version, so he and I are completely satisfied by this Stepping Stone book.

Jessie Wise Bauer (Well-Trained Mind) maintains that introducing children to adapted classics is a good idea, because then they grow to love the stories and are not intimidated by the original works when they are older. If this idea appeals to you, then I also highly recommend the series of Odyssey books by Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House author).
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on January 22, 2009
Les Miserables is about a man named Jean Valjean who lived in France in the late 1700's. He was so poor that he had to steal a loaf of bread for his sister's child because the child was about to die from hunger. The police caught him and put him in jail for 19 years. Jean Valjean was very angry and hated the world when he left the jail. He stole silver from a kind bishop, but the bishop did not turn him into the police and even gave him more silver. After this, Jean Valjean changed his life and showed love and kindness to everyone around him. He even risked his life several times to save people.

I like this book because it teaches you to be kind and to have mercy on people. It also shows you how people lived during the time of the French Revolution. This is one of my favorite books ever. It is sad but cool, and you should read it. (I read the whole book in 2 hours straight!)
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on October 20, 2005
My 3rd grader read this book for a homeschool assignment. We try to introduce the classics whenever we can. I was so impressed by this book, I've told all my homeschool girlfriends about it. The raw emotion and suspense is captured in this book, but the negative elements (prostitution, for example) are left out, making this very suitable for an elementary student. My reluctant-to-read child couldn't put it down! I love Monica Kulling's work- we own several of her retold classics. HOMESCHOOLERS: READ MY OTHER REVIEWS!
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on May 7, 2011
My eight year old daughter wanted to read Les Miserables after listening to the musical for several years. She would read along with the songs in the CD insert and had a pretty good grasp of the story line before beginning to read the book.

The book itself is about 150 pages in something like 15 chapters. We would read one or two chapters a day together and often she would read ahead of me the next day.The story in the book was developed enough that it retained my interest in the story and on several occasions my wife came in to listen as well.

The book does a good job of avoiding the more adult aspects of the original novel, no mention of prostitution and Javert's suicide is only 1 line in the book. The deaths of Fantine, Eponine and Jean ValJean are handled delicately and did not seem to overly upset my daughter.

As far as relating to the musical, I would say the story line in the book is more closely followed by the 25th anniversary version of the musical then the original version.

Overall I would say it is a good adaptation of the original for the elementary school readers.
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on February 6, 2013
I had my 8 year old read this before she saw the musical. She loved it, has it on her Kindle and we are very glad we had this book for preparation or else she wouldn't have known what was going on. This is super kid-friendly while still following the major plotlines.
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on September 12, 2015
Great book for a young reader. My 3rd grader is obsessed with wanting to read Les Miserables, so I bought this for her. It wasn't too challenging, but gave her the gist of the story and some Culteral Literacy, too.
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on July 10, 2016
Bought this book last year when my 3rd grade music class was singing "Castle On a Cloud." I was trying to explain the Les Mis story, and not succeeding. This booked helped a lot. It gives enough of the story so the children understand the concept of mercy from the Bishop and then Valjean, the meanness of the evil Thenardiers, and the obsession of Javert to hunt down Valjean and not forgive anything. It also helps students understand the time frame, although I filled in a lot of historical gaps by explaining that in the 1800s people didn't have running water and electricity, and describing what the sewers were for in Paris.

Very well written and appropriate for 3rd grade and up. I would read a chapter each class and the students would beg me to read another one.
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on July 15, 2007
This book is a great way to interest your young(2nd-4th grade)child to the classics. The wording is simple and the book is just the right length. My daughter really enjoyed this classic tale. I look forward to introducing her to other books in the stepping stone series.
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on January 24, 2013
After reading this, my 9 year old daughter is VERY interested in reading a bigger version of the story. She also can't wait to see the show this summer when we visit London. I know the story well, and have shared it with her numerous times - but having her own version was different and really cemented the story line into her memory. I don't think the film is age appropriate but the theater version will be amazing for her - especially after having read this book.
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on February 10, 2013
After seeing the movie this year, my two high schoolers who do not like books, thoroughly enjoyed this version of the book. At least it is something they have read.
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