I recently had the pleasure of reviewing The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne . This is not your average run of the mill book. It's packed with adventure and vivid imagery taking you on location to experience the story firsthand. Originally written in the 1800's, Vision Forum has reprinted many of these Ballantyne classics to inspire boys all over the world. Here's a testimony from 14 year old Joshua Phillips:
"One of my favorite pastimes is reading the books of G.A. Henty and R.M. Ballantyne. I have read more than eighty Hentys which my father has given me, and have completed nearly twenty books by Ballantyne. Henty’s books are manly adventure stories for boys set in different periods of history. Ballantyne writes the same sort of stories but sets them in wonderful and exotic geographical locations. One thing I really like about Ballantyne is the fact that his stories are explicitly Christian. The heroes of the stories believe in the Bible, lead people to Christ, and demonstrate the kind of Christian character which I know is important. I hope other boys will enjoy the stories as much as I have."
Coming from a long line of sea farers, 15 year old Englishman, Ralph Rover embarks on a lifetime of adventure as he boards the Arrow for the islands of the South Pacific.
During the voyage, a violent storm overtakes the boat destroying it. Our hero plus two teen-aged survivors, Peterkin and Jack, are shipwrecked on a deserted island in the South Pacific.
While on the island, they learn to make their own weapons, hunt, fashion a boat and even explore nearby islands. One day they witnesses two warring tribes landing on their island. The boys put a stop to the annihilation of one of the tribes and their women by the opposing tribe. This act which will bear much fruit later in the story!
Though they are a world away from their beloved England, the lads are all quite happy on the island - that is until Pirates discover their paradise and kidnap Ralph. Gone are the days of wonder and friendship. Now Ralph must adapt to a new world where he is constantly unsure of who he can trust - if anyone at all.
He finally finds friendship with a very unlikely person, Bloody Bill. They begin confiding in one another and eventually Ralph is able to witness to him about God. (This is just one of the parts of the book where Ralph mentions wishing he had read the Word more, paid better attention and listened to his Mother regarding the things of God.)
This friendship eventually gains Ralph his freedom at a great price. And in turn helps to lead a pagan, savagely cannibalistic island tribe to the saving knowledge of Jesus.
I choose to read this book out loud to my 7th, 4th and 2nd graders so they could all enjoy it. I know that my oldest could read it alone without problems. My 4th grader could read it on his own also, just stopping as needed to look up words. My daughter, my 2nd grader, enjoyed this book as well - also begging for me to "read more, read more!". When I read a word she didn't understand, she just stopped me and I gave a definition or we looked it up. I did have to edit some of the scenes regarding the cannibals near the end.
From a homeschooling perspective, there are a couple of ways to use this book:
1) Read it and enjoy it.
2) Read it, enjoy it, and discuss it.
3) Use it as a spine to study: coral reefs, weather (weather spouts, hurricanes), penguins, volcanoes, geography, ship building, botany, missionaries ..... and so forth!
Though there's no particular order to read these books (except for Coral Island followed by Gorilla Hunters), I can predict many hours filled with these wonderful stories!!!!
Check out other R.M. Ballantyne Adventures!! Click here to download a FREE Ballantyne Book Brochure with descriptions of all 20 titles.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review!