Treasure Island (Paperback)
Winter 2009 Kids' List
“Take a look at this magnificent new edition of one of the best adventure stories ever written. John Lawrence's hand-colored, vinyl-cut, and wood-textured illustrations richly evoke the atmosphere and drama of the one of the best adventure stories ever written in this magnificent new edition. An unusually beautiful piece of bookmaking, and a special gift for any time of the year.”
— Carol, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "buccaneers and buried gold." First published as a book on 23 May 1883, it was originally serialized in the children's magazine Young Folks between 1881 and 1882 under the title Treasure Island or, the mutiny of the Hispaniola with Stevenson adopting the pseudonym Captain George North. Traditionally considered a coming-of-age story, Treasure Island is a tale known for its atmosphere, characters and action, and also as a wry commentary on the ambiguity of morality - as seen in Long John Silver - unusual for children's literature now and then. It is one of the most frequently dramatized of all novels. The influence of Treasure Island on popular perceptions of pirates is enormous, including treasure maps marked with an "X," schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen carrying parrots on their shoulders. Short Summary of the Book: The novel is divided into six parts and 34 chapters: The novel opens in the seaside village of Black Hill Cove in south-west England (to Stevenson, in his letters and in the related fictional play Admiral Guinea, near Barnstaple, Devon) in the mid-18th century. The narrator, James "Jim" Hawkins, is the young son of the owners of the Admiral Benbow Inn. An old drunken seaman named Billy Bones becomes a long-term lodger at the inn, only paying for about the first week of his stay. Jim quickly realizes that Bones is in hiding, and that he particularly dreads meeting an unidentified seafaring man with one leg. Some months later, Bones is visited by a mysterious sailor named Black Dog. Their meeting turns violent, Black Dog flees and Bones suffers a stroke. While Jim cares for him, Bones confesses that he was once the mate of a notorious late pirate, Captain Flint, and that his old crewmates want Bones' sea chest. Some time later, another of Bones' crew mates, a blind man named Pew, appears at the inn and forces Jim to lead him to Bones. Pew gives Bones a paper. After Pew leaves, Bones opens the paper to discover it is marked with the Black Spot, a pirate summons, with the warning that he has until ten o'clock to meet their demands. Bones drops dead of apoplexy (in this context, a stroke) on the spot. Jim and his mother open Bones' sea chest to collect the amount due to them for Bones' room and board, but before they can count out the money that they are owed, they hear pirates approaching the inn and are forced to flee and hide, Jim taking with him a mysterious oilskin packet from the chest. The pirates, led by Pew, find the sea chest and the money, but are frustrated that there is no sign of "Flint's fist." Customs men approach and the pirates escape to their vessel (all except for Pew, who is accidentally run down and killed by the agents' horses).
About the Author
Main characters: Billy Bones: The old seaman who stays at the Admiral Benbow inn. He is a pirate who has acquired the map that shows the location of Captain Flint's treasure. Jim Hawkins: The principal narrator of the story. He gets involved in the adventure because his parents own the Admiral Benbow inn where Billy Bones stays. Jim is a young boy (13-14 years old, he is 17 when he is retelling the story), and after his father's death he begins to make his own way in the world. He is recruited as cabin boy on the Hispaniola, and through his curiosity and courage, he plays a crucial role in the eventual defeat of the pirates: he retrieves the map of Treasure Island from Billy Bones; he becomes aware of Silver's plot and informs the ship's officers of the mutiny; and he meets Ben Gunn, which leads him to Ben's boat, which enables him to reboard and recapture the Hispaniola, killing Israel Hands in self-defence. Dr. Livesey: The family physician who treats Jim Hawkins's dying father and also attends to Billy Bones. As the ship's doctor, he treats the wounded pirates, even though they are his enemies. Dr. Livesey is no stranger to violence, having in the past served the Duke of Cumberland and been wounded in battle. Long John Silver: A one-legged pirate who was quartermaster to the notorious Captain Flint. He is a very cunning, amoral man who puts on a friendly, helpful exterior while all the time planning treachery. Initially he was liked by Jim because he performs his duties as cook on the Hispaniola and he appears to be a model member of the crew. However, he soon reveals his ruthless, violent side, and once the buccaneers are on the island he murders one of the crew, as Jim watches. Captain Smollett: The captain of the Hispaniola. At the beginning of the voyage he makes his misgivings known to Trelawney, who dislikes him. But Smollett is soon proved correct in his judgments and Trelawney is forced to change his opinion. He frequently takes charge of the situation and efficiently marshals the men for the defence of the loghouse. After he is wounded he takes no further part in the action. Squire Trelawney: A rich landowner who finances the entire expedition. The squire is a well-travelled man and the best shot amongst the crew. He also shows effective leadership qualities and keeps a cool head throughout the adventure.