Thursday, January 17, 2019

"Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson

I remember liking this book as a pre-teen, and I own a couple different movie versions because I love pirates (Disney's 1950 classic and the 1990 one with Charlton Heston and Christian Bale, if you're curious).  So I was excited to re-read it as an adult, and I decided to go ahead and read it aloud to my kids while I was at it.  They love pirates too because one of the few computer games we own is Sid Meier's Pirates, and they all love playing it.

This book did not disappoint.  It didn't disappoint me, as at it may be even more awesome than I remembered.  And it didn't disappoint my kids because it had all the piratical thrills they were hoping for, and then some.  My almost-9-yr-old says this is her new favorite book.  She actually grabbed it and hugged it when we finished it.

I also taught this book to my high school lit students, and while prepping for that, I learned that Stevenson wrote the first fifteen chapters in fifteen days.  My mind is properly boggled by that.  No wonder this book gallops along at a breathless pace!

And yet, it doesn't sacrifice character development for thrills.  Jim Hawkins starts out as a somewhat heedless teen boy who doesn't appreciate the stability and peace of his life at the inn he and his mother run.  By the end of the story, he's matured into a person who recognizes his mistakes and learns from them.  He's also changed from trustful and credulous to being able to see through the machinations of adults.  Most of the adult characters don't have much of a character arc, but it's not really their story, so that really doesn't matter.  To me, anyway.

I suppose there might be a few people here who don't know the basic plot of Treasure Island.  It involves a teen boy named Jim Hawkins and a bunch of adults, some honest and some pirates, all going to an island to try to find a fabulous treasure buried there by Captain Flint.  Long John Silver, the one-legged gentleman of fortune, is the prototype that almost all our modern notions of pirates are based on.  The book as a whole more than earns its reputation as a rip-roaring adventure yarn.

(My Bookstagram photo of my copy)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for some piratical violence, including a boy being threatened and having to shoot guns to defend himself, plus lots of drunkenness and perilous situations.  I had no qualms about reading it aloud to my kids, the youngest of whom is 7, but kids younger than that might find it too tense.



This is my 26th book read and reviewed for my second Classics Club list.

11 comments:

  1. I read this a long time ago, I should reread it.

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    1. It definitely merits a re-read! (Though TBH, I like Kidnapped even better. Hoping to re-read it too.)

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  2. Hmm... I should reread this too, as I didn't notice much of character developments in my 1st read (as in most of adventure books).

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    1. Fanda, I agree that a lot of adventure books don't have much character development (I'm looking at you, Edgar Rice Burroughs). But I really see Jim changing a lot over the course of TI. I do know that for myself, a lot of times when I first read an adventure story, I'm too caught up in the excitement to notice character growth, themes, and other such deeper story elements. Which is one of the reasons I love to reread, because once I've got the story straight in my head, then those deeper things start to become clearer to me.

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  3. What a perfect reaction to loving a book (your daughter). My kids loved this one, too. We read it a few years ago, and for several weeks following completion of it, my son seriously believed he was a pirate. He wore his eye patch and never put his sword down; he may have even slept with it.

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    1. Ruth, I love that story! Eyepatch and sleeping with the sword and all. That is super fun.

      I just ordered myself a vintage copy from Etsy (these wonderful, huge hardcovers that I have a few other classics in), and when it arrives, I'm going to hand my daughter my pretty B&N copy and tell her it's for all 3 of them... but mostly her.

      We watched the Disney movie version this week, and they liked it some. We got the Muppet version out of the library today because my son (11) really wants to see that one, as he got a big kick out of the Muppet Christmas Carol last month.

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    2. (They're called the Educator Classic Library, if you're curious. Here are some of them. I have 7 of them now.)

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    3. Yes, I know those...I think my copy of Kingsley's Heroes is of that edition.
      (BTW, my 11-year old is totally into dress up. Since we've been doing a Civil War year, he's been wearing his Union cap and walking around with his rifle over his shoulder. For awhile, it was his coonskin cap after we read Where the Red Fern Grows. I love how stories become part of him, or he becomes part of the story.) Anyway, watching a film version is excellent, too. We just finished The Boy in the Alamo. Guess what we're watching soon??

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    4. Ruth, oooh, that's one of the ones I don't have yet! I haven't actually decided if I want to collect them all (there are only like 15 or so of them, I think) or if I just like having those editions of books I like.

      I love all that dressing-up to match books! My kids played tons of dress-up when they were younger, but they've gotten out of that habit lately. Except at Halloween, they always get very excited about their costumes and wear them for a while afterward.

      I've never read or seen The Boy in the Alamo -- how is it?

      My 11-yr-old is very happy that we got the Muppet Treasure Island from the library over the weekend and will probably watch it today after school. Watch him fly through the math that sometimes takes an hour or more! Hee.

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  4. This book so one of my favoriteclassics!!

    astorydetective.blogspot.com

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    1. Rakayle, it's definitely worthy of being a favorite!

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