Reviews /

Finding Treasure Island

Authored by Robin Scott-Elliot
Published by Cranachan Publishing Limited

Sam’s own adventures on a holiday in Scotland provide his stepfather, Robert Louis Stevenson, with the inspiration for his wonderful classic novel Treasure Island.

Finding Treasure Island is a very entertaining and intriguing story. It is part fiction, part fact and imagines the real inspiration behind the classic tale Treasure Island. The story has many layers beginning with the author receiving an old manuscript, written by Sam, explaining how one of the greatest adventure stories of all time came to be written. Sam is on holiday in Braemar with his stepfather’s family. His stepfather is Robert Louis Stevenson, known to Sam as ‘Luly’ and this is the first time that Sam has visited Scotland. As he explores the area, he meets lively local characters such as Jen Hawkins and John Silver. He encounters a man with a wooden leg and another who is blind. For those familiar with Treasure Island these names are recognisable as seeds to a story. Jen and Sam search the countryside for treasure that Jen is sure has been hidden there. They form a strong friendship fighting off local bullies and meeting mysterious ex-soldier Allan Mor. They attend the Braemar games and catch a glimpse of Queen Victoria. The story brims with adventure, excitement and genuine historical detail.

Robin Scott-Elliot is skilful at bringing the characters and surroundings to life. The reader experiences a real sense of the Scottish highlands, the smells, sights and sounds, both day and night. Sam and Jen explore and hide appreciating the beauty around them and being fortunate to glimpse forest wildlife. The story is filled with characters: some puzzling, some unpleasant and some heroic. Jen herself is a role model for girls seeking adventure. Alongside the excitement of the treasure hunt Sam has his own personal issues. He is very unhappy at boarding school and his stepfather has bouts of severe illness. As a family they are often on the move.

Finding Treasure Island contains many themes that would certainly promote discussion. There are strong themes on friendship, bullying, disparity of wealth and family expectations. The fact that so many elements are true makes this a very intriguing tale. At the end of the book are photographs and documents mentioned in the story. We see the actual map that Stevenson drew for Sam and the poignant dedication he wrote acknowledging Sam’s inspiration. This story would be a wonderful companion piece to an upper Key Stage 2 class study of Treasure Island. However, as a standalone story it will encourage children to seek out Treasure Island to read for themselves.

Longlisted for the Young Quills Award 2024 For Readers 8-11 Years Category