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The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne

Written by Scottish author R.M. Ballantyne in 1858, The Coral Island is a classic adventure story which has stood the test of time. In view of the fact that it was written in the 19th century, the story for me is very entertaining. The language is certainly more formal and in keeping with its day, but that does not make it difficult to read.

In line with other such tales including The Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, the story revolves around a shipwreck and its isolated aftermath. In this case the central characters are three young lads, Jack, Ralph and Peterkin who survive by finding shelter on a nearby coral island in the Pacific Ocean. The story is told through the eyes of the 15 year old character, Ralph Rover, as he recalls the adventure later on in life.

The adventures on the island are many and varied, including the daily means of survival and the enjoyment of life on the island, as well as frightening encounters with pirates during which Ralph is kidnapped. A particular favourite is the discovery of the underwater cave in which the boys take shelter from the pirates.

This is one of those stories that is read as a child and never forgotten. While it could perhaps be criticised for being somewhat idyllic, for a young audience (and even an older one) it is still a great read.