________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 3 . . . . September 21, 2012


Silver: Return to Treasure Island.

Andrew Motion. Internal illustrations by Joe McLaren.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2012.
404 pp., hardcover, $32.00.
ISBN 978-0-385-67069-2.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.

Review by Amy Dawley.

*** /4



"Israel Hands?" I repeated, astonished. "The man my father killed? Israel Hands who was Captain Flint's gunner in the old days?"

"The same."

I stared at her, still incredulous, but she would not meet my eye and continued quite calmly. "Jordan is a careful young seaman, and you have nothing to fear. He is not the same man as his uncle. He bears you no ill will, my father assures me of that. Besides, my father has chosen him to come, so come he shall"

"But you told me the captain had selected all the crew," I protested.

"And so he has," Natty replied. "All excepting Jordan."

"He must know who I am," I continued. "He will tell the others."

"That cannot be his plan," Natty said. "If it was, he would have done so already. You are making a fuss, Jim; there is no reason to worry. The captain is content."

This was said with a rather haughty air, as if I were foolish to think there might be anything untoward. But I could not help my surprise turning into something like anger. "How can you say he bears me no ill will?" I said. "By the look of him, I'd say he wants me dead in my boots."

All his life, young Jim Hawkins has grown up hearing the stories his father, Jim Hawkins Sr., would tell about his Treasure Island adventures. They are so real and so tangible that Jim can't help but feel that they are his own stories, and he feels the lasting effect his father's experiences have had on his own young life. Stuck in the dull drudgery of helping his father with their tavern business, Jim longs for the days when he can live his own adventures apart from those of his father. When a mysterious young woman contacts Jim and introduces herself as Long John Silver's daughter, Natalie, Jim's interest is piqued, and he embarks with her on an adventure to return to Treasure Island. Like Jim, Natty's life has been consumed with stories of Treasure Island, and her own now frail father is obsessed with returning to Treasure Island to claim the silver bars that were left there when the first crew escaped. Jim is so entranced by Natty and the idea of his own adventurous tale that he agrees to "borrow" his father's map to Treasure Island and accompany Natty aboard a ship to set sail to retrieve the silver.

      In his determination to reclaim his lost treasure, Mr. Silver arranged and organized their entire voyage, finding them a ship, a crew, a captain, and outfitting the vessel with every provision they could want. Jim's agreement to provide the map and accompany Natty on the voyage was the last puzzle piece, and the two young people embark almost right away. What begins as a voyage of hope and discovery develops into a shadow of the original quest for Treasure Island, and Natty and Jim are both keenly aware of the similarities. Old grudges are dredged up, characters from the past come back to life, and echoes of their fathers' struggles surface at every turn. When the ship finally arrives at Treasure Island only to discover that they are not the only captained crew on the island, the young adventurers and their companions must measure their desire for the silver with their duty to do the right thing.

      Celebrated author, poet, and creative writing professor Andrew Motion has woven a beautiful and seamless sequel to the original Treasure Island. Although the story happens many years in the future and features the children of Treasure Island's original cast of characters, the novel is positioned beautifully to continue the saga of this cursed place. The author has stuck to the spirit and tone of the original novel, and the language, rhythm, and style of the text and description are identical to Robert Louis Stevenson's own style of writing, making it a treat for readers who love the classics. While the author does an excellent job of tying the storyline into the original Treasure Island, readers who are unfamiliar with the original text would still find an enjoyable adventure story. However, readers who have read the original Treasure Island will catch the subtle references to the past and catch more meaning as they read Silver. An open-ended final line leaves room for a possible sequel to Natty and Jim's adventures.

      Silver would be a good choice for high school or public libraries whose classics collections get a lot of circulation or for readers who loved the original Treasure Island. Readers who appreciate tales about sailing and pirates might also find Silver appealing, although the classically-written style of the language might intimidate some weaker readers. Adults and older teens who loved reading Treasure Island as children would be the ideal audience for this book.


Amy Dawley is the teen librarian at the Prince George Public Library in Prince George, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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