Read The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne Online


Fifteen-year-old Ralph, mischievous young Peterkin and clever, brave Jack are shipwrecked on a coral reef with only a telescope and a broken pocketknife between them. At first the island seems a paradise, with its plentiful foods and wealth of natural wonders. But then a party of cannibals arrives, and after that a pirate ship...what is to become of them?...

Title : The Coral Island
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 226800
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 398 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Coral Island Reviews

  • Petra X
    2019-05-18 12:59

    I went to primary school at four and a half, into Mrs. Whitcombe's class. Everything was miniature, including Mrs. Whitcombe who was a little person. We sat on our little chairs at our little desks and got out our little books. Janet and John. It was quite glorious except that I had read the whole year's Janet and John primers by morning break (a very little bottle of milk and a digestive biscuit). The only other books in the classroom were Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson and Coral Island. So for the rest of the term while all the other little children were learning to read, I was immersed in tales of the far away. Far, far away from the little Welsh village I lived in into a big, big world full of treasures and exploration. I was hooked on reading from then on.

  • PirateSteve
    2019-05-11 13:56

    Tis a story of 3 shipwrecked teen aged English lads. While the tale is fun for young and old alike, I think it 's target readership would be in the tween(“between” childhood and the teenage) range. As the story unfolds the reader finds them-self on an educational journey in the islands of the South Pacific.Strong Christian beliefs are exhibited as the 3 young men display good moral character in their survival against nature, native cannibals and pirates.

  • Carolee Wheeler
    2019-05-14 10:21

    So let me get this straight.You're a teenage sailor, shipwrecked with 2 buddies on a pacific island. You get along pretty well, and are fairly happy with your lot there, but one day you see a big ship arrive and you flag it down, but O NOES it's Pirates. The pirate ship captures one of you, and sails away with you, and you are treated to all sorts of horrors including cannibalism. Nobody is any good except this one other guy, and then one day you have a chance to fool all the bad guys and you do, and they get captured by the savage cannibals (or is it cannibal savages?) and while the savages are dancing and whooping around their tied-up bodies, the Good Guy and you escape on the nice big pirate ship. But the good guy is mortally wounded, and he dies. Nevertheless, you keep going, returning to the island where you last saw your buddies. You find them! Hurrah! Also you have a boat! So you load it up with more provisions (because it's already pretty sweet, being a real live pirate ship) and you could head back to civilization or England or wherever it was you came from, but your buddy says HOLD ON A MINUTE THERE'S ONE LAST THING WE NEED TO DO. So you head off to an island where you try to save -one- island girl from being married to a guy she doesn't want to be married to. YOU COULD SAVE YOURSELVES, YOU HAVE A BOAT, BUT INSTEAD okay anyway, they're tremendously thwarted in their attempts, and it's lucky they don't end up "long pigs" on the cannibal fire, but instead they're just in prison for a few months, by which I mean a cave. Probably the whole time thinking, WE HAD A BOAT, GODDAMN IT.Of course it all ends up ok, because one day they're led from prison and their bonds are cut and it's all because a really convincing missionary (separate from the existing Island Missionary, who I guess didn't have the chops) showed up and convinced the Chief to convert to Christianity and he builds a church and lets the Island Girl love who she pleases. And she gets to marry her Christian chief and the guys say "Phew, I guess we can go home now."Praise Jesus.

  • Rohan
    2019-04-28 15:12

    It's always tricky assessing Victorian youth fiction in the light of our current postcolonial period, and all of the necessary revaluations that has entailed. The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific does have some horrendously condescending views upon the age-old moral dichotomy of 'savagery v. civility'. However, R.M. Ballantyne is a relatively unusual author for his period. Edinburgh-born Ballantyne clearly had a strongly evangelical Protestant morality, but this was also tempered with a clear-sighted and scientifically rational-observational mindset. Rather than glory in the military might and commercial prowess of empire, attempting to paint a thin veneer of moral purpose over Britain's overseas ventures, Ballantyne instead chooses to render the exotic, faraway islands of the South Pacific in minute detail, seemingly for the purpose of promoting the Christian Missionary cause, as well as telling a damned good tale of derring-do.The novel is narrated by the mature figure of Ralph Rover, who reflects back on his early adventures as a young man marooned upon a coral island in the Pacific Ocean. Two other young men, Peterkin Gay and Jack Martin, manage to survive the wreck of the trading ship, which Rover was set to sea aboard. These three boys on the cusp of manhood, bring different skills and abilities to their island prison/paradise. Jack is the oldest and strongest of the boys. He has a keen sense of bravery and proves adept at mechanical design and manipulation. Peterkin is the youngest and smallest of the boys. Unlike, Jack and Ralph he seems to lack a certain quality of upbringing and education. However his speed and agility make him an excellent hunter. Peterkin is also the clown of the group, frequently entertaining the other two and keeping the trio's spirits buoyant. Ralph, meanwhile, is the most obviously religious of the group, as well as the most cerebral. Many times throughout the novel he claims to be observing, or contemplating, something that he has come across, as if he can only conceive of the entirety of something through reflecting upon it. As Ralph is the narrator we have to take him at his word, yet there is the distinct possibility that his present age - when narrating - has allowed him to place certain, more obviously academic and spiritual, concerns upon the events of his youth. What Ballantyne's novel successfully presents is an adventure story, very much of the ripping yarn variety, that is both exciting and relatively plausible. The immense detail that is poured into precise descriptions of coral constructions, sea-life, plants and vegetation, maritime equipment and the conditions of 'native' peoples, gives the novel the veracity of a travelogue. Ballantyne was a great believer in writing about what one has seen with ones own eyes and in The Coral Reef, this is an oft-repeated mantra of Ralph's.The book falters a little in the final third when the boys come across a Missionary outpost. At this point Ballantyne's prose seems to slip into a sermonising, or eulogising, mode of discourse, that wishes to convince not just the boys, but the readers also, of the merits of the Christian Mission. Until this part of the novel Ballantyne managed to marshal his narrative with expert pacing and a keen eye for wondrous detail, which although weakened in these closing sections, still manages to maintain reader interest. It is easy to imagine what kind of impact this book would have had on young imaginations back in the 1850's and must be seen as the inspiration for a fair few maritime careers in the latter half of the 19th century. Ballantyne's fellow Edinburgh native Robert Louis Stevenson clearly utilises many of the mechanical elements of Ballantyne's plot for his own high-seas masterpiece Treasure Island. Despite being a novel aimed at youngsters, and crammed full of all the various forms of Victorian moral improvement, The Coral Reef also manages to inject moments of startling brutality into many scenes, that even by today's jaded standards would seem horrific. That said, perhaps the novel's most admirable quality is the way in which its central characters find a means to co-operate effectively with one another for the betterment of all. At his very best Ballantyne manages to meld together progressivist scientific rationalism, the core civil decencies of Christianity and an exceptional ability for narrative pacing that makes books like this a joy to read, and not just a historic curio. Hidden away in the depths of Ralph Rover's reminisces there are profound and beautiful passages such as this from the closing chapter of the novel:-"To part is the lot of all mankind. The world is a scene of constant leave-taking, and the hands that grasp in cordial greeting to-day are doomed ere long to unite for the last time, when the quivering lips pronounce the word --"Farewell"... if we realised more fully the shortness of the fleeting intercourse that we have in this world with many of our fellow-men, we would try more earnestly to do them good, to give them a friendly smile, as it were, in passing (for the longest intercourse on earth is little more than a passing word and glance), and show that we have sympathy with them in the short, quick struggle of life, by our kindly words and looks and actions."More than anything it is this strength of fellow-feeling, that is depicted with such genuine charm, dignity and grace, that will continue to commend The Coral Reef as a literary adventure worth undertaking.

  • Yuki
    2019-04-21 10:18

    Starts off as a sweet children book, ends with too abrupt of a didactic tone along with mildly annoying instances of casual racism.

  • Deborah Ideiosepius
    2019-05-03 13:00

    This is a quintessential boys adventure story: Ralph goes to sea as a cabin boy, almost as soon as they 'round Cape Horn and enter the Pacific ocean a storm sinks their ship marooning him and his two friends on a coral island on which they have wonderful adventures before escaping the island.This book is in fact a prototype of several story genera, Ballantyne was a prolific writer of stories for young people, publishing over 100 between 1847 and his death in 1894. The Coral Island is considered his most successful in that it has never been out of print since it was published in 1858. Surely that is some kind of record in print for almost 160 years!One of the writers influenced by him was Robert Louis Stevenson, who was so influenced by The Coral Island, that he based portions of Treasure Island on it. Also, The Coral Island can be considered one forerunner of the genera of 'deserted on a desert island' that is a hugely influential literary theme.I was especially excited to find it in Little Dragon format, hands up who remembers the little dragons? These children's books are practically historical their own right these days and this one was published in 1966, a 'Red Dragon For boys and girls (8-12 years). Price 2'6.As excited as I was to read it, I was a little disconcerted by the superficiality of the beginning in which less than a page of introduction passes before our narrator was at sea and less than three before the shipwreck. The writing also, seemed superficial and unsatisfying compared to my expectations. Then I was sucked into the story and didn't really emerge until the end when the writing again was choppy, the story unlikely, and the ending astonishingly abrupt.And then, of course, I realised that the little dragons of my childhood, like readers digests, must have aimed to give the story, stripped down for kids. This book says that it is 'a tale based on...' and as such a lot must have been edited out. Despite this it was a fun, fun story. An innocent, childlike and occasionally childish adventure of three impossibly nice and kindly boys between 14-18 years old that ends impossibly happily. Total suspension of disbelief is needed for it: the author had clearly no idea what coconuts were like, had never seen a coral atoll and possibly not even the Pacific ocean. The fact that Ballantyne was an educated man, familiar with the writings of Darwin and Wallace and very well read on 'current' subjects relating to the tropics does come through but it is an idealised fantasy island he has created. Also, writing as a 1880's man, it is imperialist and racist, though the missionaries have been carefully and entirely deleted from this book there are enough other references to ruffle the feathers of a modern reader. (view spoiler)[ I will not go into too many of them, but the notion that Islanders are less capable of emotions than 'white men' is pervasive and has to be read with a strong awareness that this is an actual historical novel if you have any chance of enjoying it. The idea that a 18 year old cabin boy with a tree branch can defeat a grown man who is a practiced warrior by virtue of his 'white superiority' left me with tears of laughter in my eyes. Also, the 1880's were convinced that every black race were inveterate, persistent cannibals and that element is strongly part of our youthful heros adventure's.(hide spoiler)]Our young hero Ralph and his friends, Jack Martin and Peterkin Gay (no, I kid you not!) are impossibly nice children as seen suitable for the reading of 'juveniles' in the 1880's. They have no sex drive, they never swear, they are completely moral and never hurt each other beyond the occasional very mild prank. They are utterly unbelievable and yet strangely likable in their unreality.Despite the innocence and fun of the story, In my view at least, it is no longer suitable for children, not even "Older boys and girls (12-15 years)" let alone ones 8-12, that are the Red Dragon's target market. I very strongly feel the the phenomenal levels of racism are unsuited to non adults in the 2000's. The very idea of having to explain to my 13 year old godson with his many Fijian friends, why the book is claiming they are all cannibals who kill each other without mercy or compassion gives me cold shudders.But it has whetted my appetite for reading the whole, unabridged story that Ballantyne wrote, for sure!

  • Rick Silva
    2019-05-15 14:06

    I don't tend to reread very many books, but this was one that I loved when I read it (as a pre-teen). I decided to try reading it to my son in chapters.First half was great. Classic adventure story with three teenaged boys shipwrecked on the iconic deserted island in the South Pacific. Their story of survival together is perhaps a bit overly optimistic, but it's still great fun.When the book moves into its second act, and pirates and Pacific Islander natives become involved, it takes a turn into some pretty graphic violence, and I found myself having to skip a lot when reading to my son just because it really wasn't appropriate for his age. It also presents a lot of severe racial stereotypes and inaccuracies, probably typical for its genre and time of writing, but no less disturbing.Interestly, this book (almost certainly more so than the similarly-themed Robinson Crusoe) was obviously a strong influence on Golding's Lord of the Flies.One aspect that I did really like in this story was the loyalty between the three boys, and their readiness to express their love for each other and their fears when things go wrong. The range of emotion is missing from a lot of more current adventure stories featuring boys, and it was a nice recurring theme, especially in the first half.I had very little memory of the negative aspects of this book from my original reading of it, so it was an interesting experience to revisit it with a few decades of additional life experience.

  • Micaiah
    2019-05-05 09:54

    (MIGHT UPDATE THIS REVIEW. we shall see.)The Coral Island was truly a masterpiece. I now understand why it was one of the most well-loved Ballantyne books of its time and even today. The characters were impeccable. I fell in love with them immediately. The storyline was fascinating and well-written. All around, it was fantastic.Another add to this wonderful book is the Gospel message that R.M. Ballantyne skillfully wove throughout the novel and the character’s lives (Ralph’s in particular).It was a riveting and intriguing story of three boys trapped on a lonely coral island out in the Pacific Ocean, and the many adventures and perilous happenings that befell them. Suffice to say, I loved it! I am sure it will remain my favorite, or at least one of my favorites, of Ballantyne’s many novels. Characters:Oh, the characters! They were fantastic. Jack, Peterkin, and Ralph were the perfect trio. They worked well together. Scratch that. They worked perfectly together. I have to say that thirteen-year-old, Peterkin Gay was my favorite. He was lively, humorous, incredibly energetic, and mischievous. What he said and the way he acted was incredibly hilarious, making for many ‘Laugh out loud’ moments. But he also has a real depth to him that shows on those rare occasions. :)This book was written in first-person point-of-view, and Ralph Rover is our very own ‘Story-teller’, or narrator. Ralph was philosophical, studious, and absolutely charming. He often trails off into deep patterns of thought, which is quite interesting, and, honestly, kind of fun. Suffice to say, I loved him. (But you really can’t help but love all the boys.)Jack, the brains and brawn, was the leader. Who knows what would have happened to Ralph and Peterkin had Jack not been on that coral island with them! He showed courage and bravery many times throughout the entire book, and was truly sacrificial. Always the one to whom both younger boys looked to when in doubt (actually, when in trouble), he showed wisdom and always had a plan. :)Conclusion (sorry, this was a long review):The Coral Island was a wild and adventurous mix of desert coral islands, dangerous pirates, unmerciful savages, and one crazy journey from England to the Pacific Ocean, intertwined with Godly principles and an ocean-full of humor. It espoused principles such as: fighting for the right and protecting the innocent, which can be rare in books today.The Coral Island was a fantastic book that I absolutely loved. I recommend it to those who enjoy adventure and historical fiction.READ THIS BOOK!!! :)

  • Lauren Fidler
    2019-04-30 10:20

    man, i love adventure's fascinating to reread this one after reading Lord of the, our narrator is Ralph, his dad is in the navy, and he is shipwrecked on an island with two wise, true friends, Peterkin and Jack.yes, Jack.Jack is elected captain, he espouses the importance of reading books, and is measured a philosopher by the wily Peterkin. there are pig hunts (a sow is killed), an angry savage marked with red and white paint attacks, and Jack gets described as being shark-like in his behavior.that Golding rolled deep, you know what I'm saying.totally enjoyable, would totally read again, even with the creepy white man burden shit.

  • Victoria
    2019-04-21 12:58

    Bugünlerde okuduğum kitaplardan gerçekten çok memnunum :) seri kitaplardan sonra gerçekten iyi geldiler. Bence çok güzel bi kitaptı. Macera ,deniz,ada hayatı , gemi vb. Sevenler için kesinlikle tavsiye ederim :)

  • Joey
    2019-05-12 15:06

    This adventure novel is perhaps Ballantyne's best work. With R.M. Ballantyne being a Christian (Presbyterian) this novel is explicitly so. It is a tale of three lads, Ralph, Peterkin, and Jack, who get isolated on the Coral Island after their ship is wrecked and they the sole survivors. They must struggle to make their way and survive in this island. They learn to hunt, fish, and get their own food. Their friendship grows stronger.It all seems like they are the only ones on this island until one day, barbaric savages, who lack the true God in them, come upon the island. The lads decide to try to hide but when they see a savage beating up a savage woman Jack rushes to the scene to save the woman's life. Indeed, it is a true act of bibical manliness.Later in the book, more people come. This time, pirates. They kidnap Ralph but fail to capture Jack and Peterkin due to their being in hiding. The pirates, that is Bloody Bill, bring Ralph to a more populated island with savages. The savages truly need the love of God in them. There is a missionary there, but Bloody Bill disaproves of him. Can these savages escape their life of sin and misery? and can Ralph, Peterkin, and Jack go back to England? It's all for you to find out.Some say this book has racism in it due to the Indians being called savages and barbarians. I think it not. I don't get offended when I read that my Anglo-Saxon ancestors were savages and barbaric---it's because they were and hadn't yet found Christ!

  • Pramod Nair
    2019-04-22 11:21

    I still remember the glow i felt as an eleven year old boy while i sat mesmerized reading this tale of wonderful adventure. A Classic!

  • Jeremiah
    2019-04-27 10:20

    The Coral Island was a great book. It was exciting, funny, and intriguing. And the characters - well, I really like all of them. Jack was the oldest, the leader of the three, and the tough one. Peterkin he was the funny one and the youngest. And Ralph was in the middle and was the philosophical one. They could not have made it without each other.Overall I really liked this book, and highly reccomend it.

  • Aslı M.
    2019-04-22 13:54

    Küçükken macera kitaplarını çok severdim.2017 Reading Challange maddelerinden biri de küçükken okuyup seni gülümseten bir kitaptı.O maddeyi görünce aklıma direkt Mercan Adası ve Define Adası geldi.Hangisini okudum ya da ikisini de okudum mu hatırlamıyorum.Ama içeriğinin benzer olduğunu düşündüğüm ve şuan benim için Mercan Adası ulaşılabilir olduğu için onu seçtim.

  • Ebookwormy1
    2019-05-07 13:57

    It's an interesting thing to read a book written in 1857 and see how much the world, and our perceptions of it, have changed.Ballantyne's style is typical of the time, with loquacious description of the environment and characters. Modern readers can find this tedious, but at the time, UK readers had no videos and few (black & white) photographs of south pacific islands. Ballantyne's thorough research and detailed descriptions of banyan trees, mangos (the plum like fruit not named), penguins, the growth patterns of palm trees and the sweetness of coconut brought to them a bright, sunny, new world, much like a science fiction book of today - except Ballantyne was describing something REAL on the other side of the planet. It's easy to imagine how his target audience, young men, was enchanted even as young women and adults joined in the adventure. Another feature of the time is how the narrator, Jack, heeds his mothers advice to read the Bible every day, and is distressed by his loss of the text in the shipwreck. Periodically, Jack breaks out in praise to the LORD, exclaiming over the beauty of their deserted prison and it's abundant provision for their needs. This aura of goodness is typical of early Robinsonade's and the original, Robinson Crusoe, and makes them wonderful reads for the young. Ballantyne's works are complemented by his contemporary G.A. Henty, who wrote for the same audience and featured similar themes. As such, both gentlemen are seeing a resurgence of interest by the homeschooling community. While descriptions of far off lands are tedious for adults of this age, children who are discovering the world find them just as fascinating as their original readers. In addition, reading these books creates an interest in both other places and other times. I have found they are easily available as ebooks for download (we got a set off Amazon for free!) or excellent check outs at the library, if your library has them. Reading this was similar to my experience of Swallows & Amazons. I read both Swallows & Amazons and The Coral Island because they were referenced in William Goldings 1954 Lord of the Flies, a Robinsade of a darker shade. I don't have time to digest all his work, as Ballantyne wrote over 100 books, but I'm happy to turn them over to my voracious reader, knowing they shall be free from harm and full of goodness. I remain a little jealous that I can't indulge in them as I would have, if I'd discovered them at a younger age. The incredible production of each of these authors, Ballantyne, Henty and later Ransom, makes them valuable referrals for middle school readers who devour titles, and even high schoolers who would like something easier to plow through. It will take them a good portion of their time to digest all that is available and will grow them in the process. Recommended.Robinson Crusoe, Defoe, 1719 & Amazons, Ransom, 1930 of the Flies, Golding, 1954 Lee in Virginia, G.A. Henty, 1890

  • Leila
    2019-04-28 11:11

    I read this book as a child lots of times and really loved it. I read it again when I bought it during 2014 and finished it some time later that year, I cannot remember it well enough now to write a worthwhile review except to remember the magic in the story that lifted me and transported me into another world. A boy named Ralph and his two friends Peterkin and and Jack, were shipwrecked and managed to get to a coral island. After that there had many adventures. The book always transported me to another world. It is a book to excite the heart of any child with a good imagination and a definite taste for adventure and had a simplicity that is rarely found in the ore modern children's books. I read it again as an adult for nostalgia. Coral Island, Treasure Island, The Sea of Adventure, The Hornblower books and films ... Add to that a fondness for the sea shanty songs we sang at school - Bobby Shafto and another one I loved to sing. It began 'On Friday Morn as we set sail and the chorus was something about 'And the land lubbers lying down below' Plus a childhood in Runswick Bay often sailing in my uncle's fishing Coble.... Perhaps I should have become a sailor!!!!! Apologies for not remembering the fine details of Coral Island but a book to delight if you love islands and the sea whatever age.

  • Naomi
    2019-05-12 11:14

    It's a nice book about three boys who were shipwrecked on a Pacific island. It's a wonderful coral island. I liked very much the descriptions about the island, the trees, the valleys, the mountain and some specific sights which were named by the three boy: the Water Garden, The Diamond Cave and the Spouting Cliff. I just imagined myself in this wonderful paradise. It's a very nice story although I don't liked so much that part of the book when Ralph is taken by I pirate schooner and they go to the Fiji islands. This part of the book describes the terrifying and cruel habits of the cannibals and the way they torment and eat people and they name them 'long pigs'. But in conclusion I liked the book. It has a very happy ending.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-04 08:52

    re-reading.opening Roving has always been, and still is, my ruling passion, the joy of my heart, the very sunshine of my existence. In childhood, in boyhood, and in man's estate, I have been a rover; not a mere rambler among the woody glens and upon the hill-tops of my own native land, but an enthusiastic rover throughout the length and breadth of the wide wide world.

  • Daniel Garrison
    2019-05-06 09:09

    A great little adventure story. One that anyone who likes to read, should read. Ballantyne has many more worth reading - Martin Rattler, Sunk at Sea, The Young Fur Traders, and The Dog Crusoe and His Master, just to name a few.

  • Deborah Pickstone
    2019-05-11 10:54

    A re-read of a childhood favourite. Somehow, children's lit from that era never reads as 'childish'. Still enjoyable for an adult.

  • Michelle
    2019-05-01 11:54

    NOT a waste of time. Fist Ballantyne book I read - at my little brother's recommendation. My little bro did not let me down. :)

  • Enoch
    2019-04-30 16:18

    This is my favorite book right now. I love stories about the sea and ships. Each chapter is filled with adventure and new words and ideas I haven't thought of before.

  • Colin
    2019-04-21 17:16

    I was presented with this book as a Sunday School prize in 1965, and I think it has laid untouched in my mother's drawer since then. Nothing over the years enticed me to read it, until the time came to clear the drawers, and I thought it might pass a few moments, and give me an insight into the style of the period. Gosh, what a strange book! Unlike the curates egg, somewhat bad but some of which was excellent, this ranges far more along the range, from quite sweet to absolutely appalling. Who would give a child such a monster of a book? Clearly it was acceptable to the protestant faith in the fifties, when people of the South Pacific were almost all cannibalistic savages, save those few who had been saved by the missionaries and who had turned their backs on the evil of native gods. I'm not offering a plot spoiler, but will say that there are charming moments of comradeship and discovery, but mostly a daft tale with an unbelievable ending. Actually, I had expected a simple rescue, which was not what I got. One can't help but wonder why this author is so comparatively well known - maybe just a curiosity.

  • Grace Wong
    2019-05-22 12:13

    Read an abridged version. I guess I've always been a fan of these castaway stories (Enid Blyton's Secret Island, Robinson Crusoe) and this one was great. I wished this version included a map. 4 stars, minus stars for after pirates came. I would have preferred if these stories were just about how they lived, descriptions of plants/building boats/hunting etc. It seems like every time authors try to bring it to a climax with arrivals of strangers, I cease enjoying the book, and start hoping to reach the end asap.

  • Stephen
    2019-05-03 14:20

    This is an enjoyable and interesting tale of three young sailors shipwrecked on a coral island and while not a literary classic it is a pleasant read.

  • Caroline
    2019-04-25 09:55

    The Coral Island by R.M Ballantyne is a wholesomely humorous "boys' adventure" style0novel from 1857. Ralph, Jack and Peterkin are three plucky, pious, absurdly well-prepared young sailors who wash up on a deserted Pacific island. They explore, make shelter, find food, battle sharks, storms, tidal waves, pirates, cannibals, while making innocent quips. They also become accomplished boatbuilders, hunters, butchers, naturalists, carpenters, shoemakers, and ropemakers. Eventually they escape to another island where there is adventure and intrigue among the pagans and the converted.This novel strikes me as 19th-century version of edutainment. One can imagine Victorian papas purchasing it for their sons: a rollicking adventure story, or a ripping good yarn, which also allows the eager young reader to absorb proper grammar and wholesome virtues from its upright, manly heroes.Jack gives kindly lectures on the flora and fauna of the south seas and Ralph (our narrator) expostulates his young readers to wash every day, get enough rest, keep a salt water aquarium, refrain from making silly faces, support missionaries, and force one's "attention upon ALL things that go on around me ...whether I feel it naturally or not." The good guys are rarely out of temper and never intemperate. The tone is cheery, sunny, manly and pious. There is no despair, no cowardice, no losing of faith.The language of the novel is the typical stiltiness with the occasional bit of daring "slang" thrown in by that rapscallion of Peterkin ("that's the ticket!" he says). See the following three excerpts."Most remarkable!" said Jack."Exceedingly curious!" said I."Beats everything!" said Peterkin."Now, Jack," he added, "you made such a poor figure in your last attempt to stick that object, that I would advise you to let me try it. If it has got a heart at all, I'll engage to send my spear right through the core of it; if it hasn't got a heart, I'll send it through the spot where its heart ought to be."“Peterkin did not answer, and I observed that he was gazing down into the water with a look of intense fear mingled with anxiety, while his face was overspread with a deadly paleness. Suddenly he sprang to his feet and rushed about in a frantic state, wringing his hands, and exclaiming, "O Jack, Jack! he is gone! It must have been a shark, and he is gone for ever!"”It also boasts many unfortunate references to "savages" and the boys' "horror" at their customs, which increase in frequency as the novel goes on.The "savages" are not painted as creatures that must be destroyed, but as creatures that must be converted. Not all are monsters (one lighter-skinned girl is quite sympathetic) and the white pirates are as equally evil. Indeed, the kindly missionaries (and Ralph) take pains to explain the native evils are not as bad because they simply do not know any better. However, while not purposefully malicious, this kind racism is VERY condescending, cringeworthy in more than a few spots.Notwithstanding the racism, there is a certain charm in these old-fashioned stories. The formality of the language may strike a modern ear as stilted, but that's not necessarily a bad thing; I found a great deal of humor in it. For a 19th century book, it IS readable and the phrasing goes down smoothly. And let us not forget that Treasure Island, for one, is written in a similar, though far superior, fashion (Stevenson admired Ballantyne). The awesome earnestness of its moralizing and the delight the author takes in telling the tale, also make one smile.I am not sure who this book would be good for, these days. The uneasy racism, the formal language, the endless moralizing... they aren't for the youngsters of today. The advanced reader, on the other hand, won't find much beyond a cheerful historical curiosity, and if in a good mood, will beam mildly on the pleasures of the past.

  • Ivy-Mabel Fling
    2019-05-16 16:08

    Living in post-Brexit Britain, the incredible smugness of this story was hard to take. One could have laughed it off if it had not come back to haunt us. Rule Britannia! And thank goodness the gods are on our side and wear our type of clothing!

  • David Brown
    2019-05-09 14:01

    I’ve always wanted to write a story to do with a shipwreck and a desert island. A tried and tested formula you would argue and I would agree with you. I still harbour thoughts of this type of story but not until I’ve come up with something a bit different which may never happen. R M Ballantyne’s The Coral Island is your traditional shipwrecked sailors on a remote island with many exciting adventures thrown into the mix.The novel focuses on three teenagers – Ralph Rover, Jack Martin and Peterkin Gay – who are the only survivors following a shipwreck in the Pacific Ocean. Ralph is our narrator and he recounts some extraordinary adventures as the teenagers become accustomed to life on their remote coral island. What begins as a paradise idyll soon becomes a harsh reality as the boys encounter both pirates and Polynesian tribes. The question is can the boys survive and will they ever get home?Ballantyne’s story gets going very quickly. Ralph briefly describes his home in Scotland but all too soon he’s on board a ship and setting out to sea for many months. After their ship is wrecked on a coral reef, the boys come to an uninhabited island and soon settle into a comfortable life. They find ample fruit and wild animals, which they successfully hunt, build a shelter for themselves and even a boat. Ballantyne describes every young boy’s dream of carefree adventure and though the teenagers do long to be home they are certainly in no rush while they await rescue.Things change when the boys realise they are not alone on the remote island and they start to get frequent visitors. Warring Polynesian tribes that commit appalling atrocities against each other are the first concern but these are superseded by the arrival of bloodthirsty pirates. By this point the boys have located an underwater cave which makes for a great hiding place though they have the problem of Peterkin who is not overly fond of being underwater! The story develops further as Ralph is captured by the pirates and whisked away from the coral island leaving Jack and Peterkin behind. How will Ralph get out of this one?The Coral Island is a pleasant and enjoyable read full of adventure in the early stages but then addressing some more serious issues such as the warring Polynesian tribes and later the work of missionaries in their efforts to bring Christianity to the rest of the world. Conflict plays a big part whether its tribal rows, pirates against the native tribes, or even religious divisions. Of course, it all works out well in the end but it’s a good read all the same.The Coral Island is a fun read full of adventure in distant lands, a seemingly island paradise but one tainted by local warfare. There are some surprisingly dark elements to the story which ground it in welcome realism but it’s not detrimental to the great adventure the three teenagers enjoy.

  • Mathew
    2019-05-01 13:55

    Written in 1858, when the Empire was still at its height and a few years before the American Civil War, Scottish writer, R.M.Ballantyne wrote what appears to be one of the first novels for children (try not to think of children in its modern conception) which featured only teenagers (or young adults). It is, without doubt, very much of its time and could not be read seriously within the classroom setting. It could, perhaps, we read and analysed as a cultural artifact and as a lens from which to view British perceptions of other cultures and faiths. This is a coming-of-age novel which finds itself still deeply rooted in the need to celebrate Empire, Christian faith as the answer to all problems and its supremacy to all other faiths and cultures (this is the reason why you couldn't read it seriously within a school setting). On saying this, it was, in fact, a precursor to and muse for William Golding's Lord of the Flies and therefore, in that respect, offers an interesting insight into Golding's own ideologies. Set mainly in the South Pacific islands, the story tells of three teenage boys who find themselves marooned on an island; the sole survivors of a shipwreck. Using little cunning or guile they seem to survive incredibly well on the fruits that God provides them with. It is up to the children though to use their cunning of strength of faith to outwit and fight off cannibals, sharks and invading pirates.I suppose that it could be argued that it is, rather like The Secret Garden, ahead of its time. In a time when fiction for children was mean to be overtly didactic, here is a novel for boys, written from a boy's perspective and, although very clear in terms of the rules of living under an Imperialistic flag, it is a book for boys and not for parents to read and preach to boys. I can't say that I enjoyed it. Its depiction of native South Pacific islanders made for an uncomfortable read and the influence of Christianity is a forceful one. Yet, it is not without its excitement and adventures and, I think, could offer a very interesting discussion around what it is telling us about the cultural identity of the British people (and children) during this time. On saying this, it should be read with caution - there are graphic and deeply upsetting scenes throughout which could almost rival McCarthy's The Road

  • Sam
    2019-05-05 12:07

    A classic adventure story that follows the exploits of Ralph, Jack and Peterkin after they survive the lose of the vessel on which they were deck hands and the disappearance of the rest of the crew over the horizon in the deck boat they managed to salvage in the midst of the storm. At first Ralph, our narrator, and Peterkin, the comedian of the trio, are very much dependant on Jack, who is the quintessential leader of the bunch, but as the story progresses both Ralph and Peterkin develop their own skills, both on and off the island. Ballantyne transports the reader to the coral islands of the South Pacific through the discoveries and adventures of these three characters and brings the reader all the excitement, joy, fear and adrenalin that being shipwrecked can bring. Although the latter part of the book does take on a certain religious twist, this is to be expected given the fact that the book was written in 1858 when Christianity was pretty much the only accepted religion of the western world and had a habit of creeping in to many of the works of the time. The language is of the formal type expected but it is still incredibly readable and enjoyable and you don’t need a lot of experience reading older works to be able to understand what Ballantyne and his characters mean and best of all, my edition, rescued by some friends from a skip, published sometime before 1919, hasn’t been edited or abridged and has the traditional thicker pages and type-writer text, which definitely added to my enjoyment of the book.