Friday, July 22, 2011
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
When I was a kid we had a card game called, "Authors." It was a simple "Old Maid" kind of game where you collected 4 books by a famous author to make a set. The one with the most sets at the end of the game wins. It was a great game, too, because from it I learn a lot of famous authors and their most well known works. One of the authors in the game was Robert Louis Stevenson and one of his cards was Kidnapped. I really enjoyed Treasure Island, so when I saw this book this week I decided to give it a try. It was originally written in 1886 as an adventure book for boys, and it deals with the conflict between the British King George and the Scottish clans in the 1750's. I can see why a Victorian boy would have loved this book. It is full of all the kinds of adventures like sword fights, a shipwreck, long forced marches, treacherous relations, that still populate adventure fiction. The main character, David Balfore, is orphaned, so he goes to find his uncle who reportedly owns a big estate. When David meets his uncle he begins to suspect that he, David, is the rightful heir instead of his old miserly uncle. Of course, this is the case, and to prevent David from inheriting, the uncle pays a sea captain to capture David and sell him into slavery in America. David then goes through a book full of adventures, escaping the ship and making his way home through Scotland with the help of a rebel-rouser, Allen Breck, who is wanted for rebellion against the crown. It sounds like a great book for boys, right? The only problem is that it is full of Scottish dialect. By the end of the book the reader is totally conversant with Scottish terms like "ken" and "bairn". For modern boys it would take a really confident reader, maybe one who has read all of the "Redwall" series by Brian Jacques, to get through it (230 p).