Thursday, 22 March 2012
Robert Louis Stephenson's adventure, first published in 1886, is probably the finest children's book ever written. Although usually seen as 'a boy's book' it is so well written it is suitable for girls as well and adults too for that matter. The three-dimensional characters, suspenseful plot and beautifully written language which flows with rhythm and cadence make it a memorable work which, if read by a child of, say, twelve or older will stay with them for life.
Our modern-day concept of pirates is based on Long-John Silver, Blind Pew, Black Dog, Israel Hands and the other creations of Stephenson. Most pirate adventures on screen or on the page rely on the devices created by Stephenson. For example the idea of buried treasure and a secret map with 'X' marking the spot, the notion of betrayal, redemption and good versus evil are all strong elements in his writing.
An interesting side-note is that Stephenson spent his honeymoon in the Napa Valley, California and used descriptions of the scenery which he wrote at the time to describe Treasure Island. Also, after the book had been published he spent a month by the Manasquan River in Brielle, New Jersey and visited an island in the river then known as Osborn Island and now known as Nienstedt Island. He referred to it as Treasure Island and the name was popular for while.
I hope that, if you have never read this book, you are now tempted to read it. If so you are in for a treat. When I told the story to seven-year-old Sonny he wouldn't let me stop so don't deprive yourself or any children in your care!
I won't give any more details of the plot except to say that the story opens when mysterious men come looking for a retired 'sea dog' who is living in the inn run by Jim Hawkins' parents on the south coast of England. They ransack his room looking for something but they can't find it. They leave angrily threatening to return.........