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Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. The son of a prosperous civil engineer, he was expected to follow the family profession, but was allowed to study law at Edinburgh University. Stevenson reacted strongly against the Presbyterian respectability of the city's professional classes and this led to painful clashes with his parents. In his early twenties he became afflicted with a severe respiratory illness from which he was to suffer for the rest of his life; it was at this time that he determined to become a professional writer. The effects of the often harsh Scottish climate on his poor health forced him to spend long periods abroad. After a great deal of travelling he eventually settled in Samoa, where he died on 3 December 1894.

Stevenson's Calvinistic upbringing gave him a preoccupation with pre-destination and a fascination with the presence of evil. In Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde he explores the darker side of the human psyche, and the character of the Master in The Master of Ballantrae (1889) was intended to be 'all I know of the Devil'. Stevenson is well known for his novels of historical adventure, including Treasure Island (1883), Kidnapped (1886) and Catriona (1893). As Walter Allen comments in The English Novel, 'His rediscovery of the art of narrative, of conscious and cunning calculation in telling a s


Gr 3-7-The language in this adaptation is truer to the original, and thus, more sophisticated than that of Deborah Kestel's "Great Illustrated Classics" version (Playmore, 1992). After his father's death, David Balfour leaves his simple life in the Scottish Lowlands and sets out to find an uncle whom he has never met. Unaware of the bad blood between his father and uncle, he arrives at Ebeneezer's home, only to find that the cruel man has no intention of granting the lad his rightful inheritance. In fact, he has the boy kidnapped aboard a ship to be sold as a slave in North Carolina. David's tenacious spirit and his friendship with the rebellious Jacobite Alan Breck eventually bring him to safety. Told in 11 brief chapters, this abridgement introduces the basics of the story while maintaining a feel for the Scottish dialect. Some of the old-fashioned words and phrases may be a bit of a stretch for readers, but can be understood in context. Though obviously lacking in some of the details of the original, the narrative is easy to follow. Readers are able to gain insight into the hearts of David and Alan, although Ebeneezer and Captain Hoseason remain rather flat. Wyeth's oils (which appeared in the full-length version) add a sense of realism and capture interesting historical details. Meis's retelling retains the flavor of Stevenson's rollicking tale and might inspire readers to search out the full-length epic.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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