Tuesday 31 May 2016

Reviewing the Classics #3 Treasure Island

                                                                                         Goodreads Summary:

The most popular pirate story ever written in English, featuring one of literature’s most beloved “bad guys,” Treasure Island has been happily devoured by several generations of boys—and girls—and grownups. Its unforgettable characters include: young Jim Hawkins, who finds himself owner of a map to Treasure Island, where the fabled pirate booty is buried; honest Captain Smollett, heroic Dr. Livesey, and the good-hearted but obtuse Squire Trelawney, who help Jim on his quest for the treasure; the frightening Blind Pew, double-dealing Israel Hands, and seemingly mad Ben Gunn, buccaneers of varying shades of menace; and, of course, garrulous, affable, ambiguous Long John Silver, who is one moment a friendly, laughing, one-legged sea-cook . . .and the next a dangerous pirate leader!

The unexpected and complex relationship that develops between Silver and Jim helps transform what seems at first to be a simple, rip-roaring adventure story into a deeply moving study of a boy’s growth into manhood, as he learns hard lessons about friendship, loyalty, courage and honor—and the uncertain meaning of good and evil  

  As a child I was obsessed with Muppet's Treasure Island. This was not just a small obsession, this was watching it on VHS at least once a week and knowing every song and most of the dialogue. Although I loved The Muppets in general, I was never as obsessed with any of the other Muppet movies as I was with Treasure Island. There was just something about unknowingly sailing with a bunch of pirates that made it extremely exciting. However, for whatever reason I never did read the book that my favourite movie was based on. Although Treasure Island is a children's book, and I have been an avid reader since a young age I just never got round to reading it until now!

The first thing I have to say is that it is nothing like the Muppet movie that I loved so much as a child, and although Muppet's Treasure Island did include key points such as the apple barrel scene and the death of Billy Bones, there was a lot that was changed. Although this is a book about pirates, as it is a children's book I did not expect it to be as violent as it was. There are multiple deaths in this book, and although they are not too graphic, I still think that this would have shocked me if I'd read it as a child. I also felt that I would have struggled with understanding some of the words if I had read it around the time I was obsessed with The Muppets, so I'm actually glad that I waited until I was an adult to read this book, as I don't think I would have appreciated it much as a child. However that is not to say that children would not enjoy this book, as it is full of action, adventure and of course, the most important thing, pirates. I do however feel as if young children would benefit from having this book read to them by an adult rather than trying to read it for themselves.

I highly recommend the edition with illustrations by Michael Foreman, as I thought they were extremely unique and aesthetically pleasing, and helped to break up the text. Children often enjoy visual representations, so I think that this edition is perfect for children who aren't too keen on reading or find looking at page after page of text daunting or off putting. Although this book was far too large to take with me on public transport, it would make a perfect bed time story.

I loved that there were characters that I'd come across via the Muppet movie such as Jim Hawkins, Blind Pew and Long John Silver, but also characters who for whatever reason didn't make it into the Muppet movie such as Israel Hands. This made it interesting for me and although the overall plot was familiar, there was still a lot of differences to keep me interested and wanting to know what happened next. A lot of the violence was, for obvious reasons not in a Disney movie, so I loved seeing the bravery of Jim Hawkins when faced by deadly pirates and how he single handedly saved himself from their clutches.

Long John Silver was an interesting character, as although he is no doubt the villain of the story, we can't help but feel a little sympathy for him, especially towards the end of the book. Although he is at first the leader of the mutineers, they soon turn against him and he is forced to change sides. I also liked that what happened to him at the end of the book was open to interpretation, as once he escapes the ship with his money, Jim never hears from him again.

It is fairy obvious why this book has stood the test of time, as it is just as exciting now as it was when it was released over 100 years ago. It is a fairly quick read, and the fast paced action makes it easy to read chapter after chapter in one sitting. It has definitely made it's way into my top children's classics, and although purely for the sake of nostalgia I still prefer the Muppet movie, this was still an extremely good book!

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