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BOOK SUMMARY

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Publisher:
Scholastic Apple paperback
Number of pages:
223

Summary:

The story is told in the first person by Jim Hawkins, whose mother kept the Admiral Benbow Inn, and who shared in the adventures from start to finish. An old sea dog comes to this peaceful inn one day, apparently intending to finish his life there. He hires Jim to keep a watch out for other sailors, but despite all precautions, he is hunted out and served with the black spot that means death. Jim and his mother barely escape death when Blind Pew, Black Dog, and other pirates descend on the inn in search of the sea dog’s papers. Jim snatches up a packet of papers to square the sailor’s debt, when they were forced to retreat from the inn. The packet contains a map showing the location of the pirate Flint’s buried treasure, which Jim, Doctor Livesey, and Squire Trelawney determine to find. Fitting out a ship, they hire hands and set out on their adventure. Unfortunately, their crew includes one-legged Long John Silver, a pirate also in search of the treasure, and a number of his confederates. Jim, hidden in an apple barrel, overhears the plans of the crew to mutiny, and he warns his comrades. The battle between the pirates and Jim’s party is an exciting and bloody one, taking place both on the island and aboard ship. Jim escapes from the ship, discovers the marooned sailor, Ben Gunn, who has already found and cached the treasure, and finally the victors get safely aboard the ship with the treasure.

Strong Points:

  • The plot is excellent. The adventures of Jim Hawkins are filled with suspense. This is one of the best books ever written for children. It will appeal especially to boys but can be read by girls.
  • The characters are not stereotyped and unrealistic, but are so skillfully portrayed that they live for us in our imagination. Who can forget Long John Silver, the pirates of pirates? Terrifying, yet somehow likeable; cruel, yet somehow kind. As John Senior says "The one-legged pirate with a patch on an eye and parrot on his shoulder is one of the half-dozen great creations. Like Don Quixote of the Wyf of Bath, he is fixed in our brains forever. How much we would give even now to find that map and go with him!"
  • A reason for reading is learning to write. Stevenson is a master craftsman. His prose is classic, clear, and rhythmical. While the children only think about enjoying a great story, unbeknownst to themselves, they are being exposed to fine language.

Cautions:

  • Teasure Island, unlike other children’s stories, includes some characters who are not examples of virtue but on the contrary lead sinful lives. However, this is normal since they are pirates and it is what you expect of them. They are the villains of the story and their evil ways are not condoned. Pirates are, as Jim says, "some of the wickedest men that God ever allowed upon the sea." Jim Hawkins, Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesey are on the contrary characters who, throughout their adventures, show virtues like courage and honesty.
  • There are many words which need to be explained. Examples: tarry, coltish, bleared, tallowy, etc.

Conclusion:

"Every time I start this book again, the old awe comes over me, and I think ‘This is the best!’" (John Senior) Hopefully children who have enjoyed Treasure Island will want to read other books by Robert Louis Stevenson like Kidnapped and The Black Arrow.