Treasure Island (1883)
By Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894)
Robert Louis Stevenson classic novel, Treasure Island tells the story of a young Johnny Hawkins, who lives with his mother and helps her in managing the Admiral Benbow inn. One of the tenants is a strange and mysterious Billy Bones, who had been a pirate. After some time had passed, Billy Bones had a frightening visitor, Black Dog. The two pirates begin to quarrel and eventually, Billy Bones is killed and Black Dog is injured. A series of pirates visit and young Mr. Hawkins finds a map in the dead pirate’s chest. Jim realizes that the map is valuable and immediately takes it out of the chest and hides it.
Johnny takes the map to local officials, Dr. Livesey and Squire Trelawney. Realizing this is a treasure map, planning for an expedition to retrieve the treasure immediately begins. A ship, the Hispaniola is provisioned and a crew is recruited. The current owners of the map are “landlubbers” and are not experienced in the ways of the sea. Mistakenly, they hire Long John Silver as the cook and many other questionable characters. The captain of the Hispaniola, Smollet is a good and honest man, but does not suspect that much of the crew is untrustworthy.
Johnny overhears a plot by Long John Silver and members of the crew to mutiny and take over the ship. The ultimate plan is to take possession of the map and eventually the treasure. Johnny promptly informs the honest members of the crew and plans begin on their defense. Unfortunately, the honest crewmembers are hopelessly outnumbered by the pirates.
Meanwhile, the Hispaniola anchors off the final destination, Skeleton Island. Captain Smollet tricks the mutinous crew into landing on the island, while the loyal members were to remain on board. However, Johnny Hawkins also disembarks and joins the pirates. The loyal crew must save young Mr. Hawkins and a battle follows between the outnumbered loyal crewmembers and the pirates.
On the island, Ben Gunn who had previously been marooned on the island joins forces with the loyal crew. They trade the treasure map for a return of Johnny Hawkins. However, the treasure map is completely useless, as Ben Gunn had found the treasure and moved it. Smollett, Trelawney, Livesey, Gunn and other loyalists have skirmishes with the pirates and consistently get the better of them. Eventually, only 3 pirates remain and Long John Silver is captured.
Some of the treasure is moved on the ship and the remaining crew sets sail for home, leaving the last 3 pirates on the island. At home, life returns to normal but the rest of the treasure remains on Skeleton Island.
This book is an excellent work and widely considered as Robert Louis Stevenson’s best. This is such a compelling story that it has been made into no less than 14 movies. This story was put to film as early as 1912. The story was made into a mini series, cartoon, made for TV movie and a TV series. The story’s most interesting character, that of Long John Silver has been played by very famous actors. Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Wallace Berry, Jack Palance, Alfred Burke, Bernard Miles among, others all took turns playing the lead pirate. This book is an excellent way to begin young children into the joys of reading classic books.