This story grabs the reader's attention through an action packed adventure around Scotland. We follow David Balfour through his travels to find who he is and claim his true inheritance. This story would be suitable for readers in grades 6 and up.
Classic / British English
After his parents die, young David Balfour goes to the house of his uncle Ebenezer. But his uncle is a dangerous man. When he puts David on a ship to America, a difficult and dangerous time begins. But who is the stranger on the ship? Can he help David?
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Pearson English Graded Readers
Robert Louis Stevenson
An awesome adventure and nothing trivial or cliche about it. It is really the first part of a two volume story; it ends abruptly in Edinburgh with only some things resolved and its sequel, Catriona, picks up the story of David Balfour about an hour later. It inspired some thrilling illustrations by N.C. Wyeth and has some very funny bits. David's internal musings are moving and amusing and Allan Breck is a right handful. There is no extreme of weather that poor David does not endure.
Previously I have ranked Robert Louis Stevenson among my favorite authors simply on the basis of Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and selections from A Child's Garden of Verses. Now I'm pleased to add Kidnapped to that list. In my review of Treasure Island, I called Stevenson a master of atmosphere, and that's true here as well. He has a most miraculous ability to make me feel like I've stepped into a new world and am experiencing it for the first time, side by side with our hero, David Balfour: On the forenoon of the second day, coming to the top of a hill, I saw all the country fall away before me down to the sea; and in the midst of this descent, on a long ridge, the city of Edinburgh smoking like a kiln. There was a flag upon the castle, and ships moving or lying anchored in the firth; both of which, for as far away as they were, I could distinguish clearly; and both brought my country heart into my mouth. But while every page of Treasure Island seems to be bathed in salty air, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in grimy fog, in Kidnapped the atmosphere varies from setting to setting, from scene to scene. There's a Gothic air pervading the encounters with Uncle Ebenezer (truly one of the lowest and most despicable of Stevenson's characters, and not at all similar to his usual Devil-as-Gentleman villain), followed by a nautical section that invokes all of the danger and little of the lightness of Treasure Island. The majority of the tale, however, centers on the romance and mystique of the highlands. The character who best embodies Stevenson's idea of highland honor is Alan Breck Stewart; all the complexity that Stevenson spared in creating Uncle Ebenezer he seems to have kept in reserve for the portrait of this adventurous outlaw, who was a real historical personage. Stevenson's Alan is alternately heroic and petty, friendly and shortsighted. At times he almost seems younger than his juvenile companion, although he's never less than sympathetic. By my calculations, David himself ought to be roughly the same age as Jim in Treasure Island, but David is the more complicated character, and thus Kidnapped reads as an "older" story. Unfortunately, it's also more episodic than Treasure Island, with a weaker plot and an open ending. Still, I enjoyed it, and look forward to reading more Stevenson-including the sequel, Catriona!
A great story with a good narrative drive involving the betrayal and kidnapping of the central character, David Balfour, his flight across the Scottish landscape and his eventual rescue and restoration to his fortune. There are a number of other colourful and intriguing characters especially David's uncle Ebenezer (similar to his Dickensian namesake) and Alan Breck Stewart. Good stuff, though there are an awful lot of Scots words not recognised in the OED and only a few of which are explained in footnotes in the Delphi Collected Works edition.
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