Miss Spicer was 'my' librarian when I was young. Her dark dresses, severe bun and black glasses gave her a stern air which definitely deterred anyone from running and talking loudly in the library. But, it was she who fed and fostered my love of reading. I always asked her what I should read next. To her credit, she never, ever brushed me off. One summer she decided I would read the classics - Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island and more. It was the sense of adventure, the unknown and putting myself into the character's shoes that spirited me away for many a hot afternoon.
With the release Andrew Motion's new book Silver - Return to Treasure Island - I was yet again transported away on a adventure with pirates, parrots and plunder.
Jim Hawkins returned to England with his share of the treasure and now, in 1802, is an innkeeper. He runs the inn with the help of his son Jim. Jim has grown up hearing the tale of Treasure Island over and over again. And so has Natty, who shows up one night with a proposition for young Jim from her father - Long John Silver. Silver wants young Jim to 'obtain' the map to Treasure Island from his father. There is still treasure to be recovered and Silver will provide the ship, captain and crew for the voyage. He is too infirm to go himself, so Natty will go in his place, disguised as a boy.
Andrew Motion is a superb storyteller. His tale pays homage to Stevenson, keeping the tone and language true to the time. The book isn't a fast paced swashbuckler, although there is of course a requisite sword fight. Rather, it is somewhat leisurely in spots, allowing us to take in Jim's narrative and descriptions. A third of the book is devoted to getting to the island. Once there, Motion does a great job of re imagining what the island would be like - and what happened to those left marooned many years ago. It is here that the story takes off - good vs. evil, love lost and found, duty and honour and more. In a sly nod to the original, the crewman most often in the crow's nest, keeping an eye out - is named Stevenson. The ending left me a bit unsatisfied. The door has been left open for a sequel's sequel.
I'm not sure if children today would enjoy this sequel or not, but this adult quite enjoyed being transported back to her childhood. Read an excerpt of Silver.