Monday, January 20, 2014

The Young Marooners, or Robert and Harold, by F. R. Goulding

 By Francis Robert Goulding

My rating:  8 out of 10 stars
Recommended age range: 7-14 years old


This is an excellent children's story I discovered some time ago when reading the advertisements in the back of an old book.  It is the story of four children, brothers Robert and Frank, their sister Mary, and cousin Harold, who are carried off in their boat one day off the coast of Florida while waiting for their father to come from the house before starting on a pleasure excursion intended to last several weeks.  They are cast away on a desert island, and their boat destroyed in a storm, confining them to it until they can build a new boat, or are rescued.  Not long after landing, they are joined by one of their family servants, who is incapacitatied for a time however, by severe injuries.

Meanwhile, their nearly distracted father is frantically searching for them, and actually lands on the island, but departs again without having gained any clue to their whereabouts.  The children and servant continue getting their living from the island, appropriately called by them "The Island of Refuge".  Eventually they are reunited with their family, and return to their home on the shores of Tampa Bay.

This book is packed with information about living in the woods, and the wildlife of South Florida.  It is interesting and holds the attention of children, once you get past the first few chapters.  There is one short part which may be skipped for young listeners, as it describes the inside of a recently wrecked ship, and occasionally there will be a reference to "ghostses" or some other superstition, coming from Sam, the black servant.  Other than this, the book is remarkably clean and is distinctly Christian.  The children are careful to observe the Lord's day throughout the whole of their stay on the island, and an account is given of Harold's conversion, which includes many passages of Scripture.  The children love and care for each other in the way that siblings should.  The boys are manly strong in character, but well mannered, and Mary is feminine and gentle, though capable of caring for herself when necessary.   Altogether it is excellent reading, although it sometimes does not hold the attention of children very well, as parts of it are more descriptive than exciting.  There is a sequel, Marooner's Island, but it is not so interesting as the first, and does not show the subsequent doings of the family, but rather father's search for his lost children.

This book is available here from Gutenberg, 
here from Internet Archive,
and also here from Google books.     

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