Book Review Two: TREASURE ISLAND Robert Louis Stevenson 1883

During 2024 we are going to do a series of English lessons related to famous authors and their books. One of the regular peices of advice I give to all of my students is that one of the best ways to advance your vocabulary and understand another culture is to read.  Reading expands your knowledge, increases your knowledge of the English language and how we use it and opens your world. When I ask my students the question: “Do you read?” invariably, they say no. Unfortunately, the internet seems to have killed books.  DOWNLOAD the BOOK HERE

Book Study Two:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Chapter One: 

Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 1700 and  go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (LODGINGS):  Hotel, Air BnB, Bed and Breakfast

Synonyms (SABRE):    Sword, Knife

Grammar Question:  MODAL VERBS.

  1.  In the following sentence from Treasure Island, identify the modal verb used for probability and rewrite the sentence using an alternative modal verb to convey a similar meaning: “The pirates might have missed some of the buried gold.”

Video Listening Section:  Watch the 5 minute video and answer the questions below:


            1.  What does the word “outstanding” mean?
            2. How many movies had Walt Disney produced before this one?
            3.  By  1950, how many people had read the book, “Treasure Island” ?
            4. What was the name of the book character with a parrot on his shoulder?
            5. How many legs did Long John Silver have.
            6. What was boy’s name in the book?
            7. What alcohol drink was Billy Bones drinking?
            8. The poor Ben Gunn was marooned on Treasure Island. What does “marooned” mean?

Section Two:

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea- chest following behind him in a hand-barrow — a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man, his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails, and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white. I remember him looking round the cover and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards: “Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest — Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! in the high, old tottering voice that seemed to have been tuned and broken at the capstan bars. Then he rapped on the door with a bit of stick like a handspike that he carried, and when my father appeared, called roughly for a glass of rum. This, when it was brought to him, he drank slowly, like a connoisseur, lingering on the taste and still looking about him at the cliffs and up at our signboard.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (A TARRY PIGTAIL): Sticky, oily, dirty

Synonyms (PLODDING, TO PLOD):  trudge, slog, labour, tramp, lumber

Grammar Question:

2.  Rewrite this sentence from Treasure Island using a modal verb of obligation: “It was essential for Jim to stay quiet and hide.”

Section Three:

“This is a handy cove,” says he at length; “and a pleasant  grog-shop. Much company, mate?” My father told him no, very little company, the more was the pity. “Well, then,” said he, “this is the berth for me. Here you, matey,” he cried to the man who trundled the barrow; “bring up alongside and help up my chest. I’ll stay here a bit,” he continued. “I’m a plain man; rum and bacon and eggs is what I want, and that head up there for to watch ships off. What you mIght call me? You mought call me captain. Oh, I see what you’re at — there”; and he threw down three or four gold pieces on the threshold. “You can tell me when I’ve worked through that,” says he, looking as fierce as a commander.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (GROG):  swill, tipple, booze, beer, booze

Synonyms (TO TRUNDLE):  stroll, trundle, walk, amble

Grammar Question:

3. Based on Treasure Island, write a sentence using a modal verb to express the ability of Long John Silver’s parrot to mimic human speech.

Section Four:

And indeed bad as his clothes were and coarsely as he spoke, he had none of the German appearance of a man who sailed before the mast, but seemed like a mate or skipper accustomed to be obeyed or to strike. The man who came with the barrow told us the mail had set him down the morning before at the Royal George, that he had inquired what inns there were along the coast, and hearing ours well spoken of, I suppose, and described as lonely, had chosen it from the others for his place of residence. And that was all we could learn of our guest. He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung round the cove or upon the cliffs with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner of the parlour next the fire and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly he would not speak when spoken  to, only look up sudden and fierce and blow through his nose like a fog-horn; and we and the people who came about our house soon learned to let him be. Every day when he came back from his stroll he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the road.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (SKIPPER):  captain, helmsman, navigator, pilot, commander

Synonyms (PARLOUR):  sitting room, lounge, drawing room, living room, reception room

Grammar Question:

4.  In this passage from Treasure Island, which modal verb is used to show obligation, and what is its purpose in the sentence? “Jim had to find a safe location for hiding before the pirates spotted him.”

Section Five:

At first we thought it was the want of company of his own kind that made him ask this question, but at last we began to see he was desirous to avoid them. When a seaman did put up at the Admiral Benbow (as now and then some did, making by the coast road for Bristol) he would look in at him through the curtained door before he entered the parlour; and he was always sure to be as silent as a mouse when any such was present. For me, at least, there was no secret about the matter, for I was, in a way, a sharer in his alarms. He had taken me aside one day and promised me a silver fourpenny on the first of every month if I would only keep my “weather-eye open for a seafaring man with one leg” and let him know the moment he appeared. Often enough when the first of the month came round and I applied to him for my wage, he would only blow through his nose at me and stare me down, but before the week was out he was sure to think better of it, bring me my four-penny piece, and repeat his orders to look out for “the seafaring man with one leg.”

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (TAKE ASIDE):  to speek in private, isolate, segregate

Synonyms (STARE ME DOWN):  gaze intently, lock eyes, peer at, glare at, fix one’s gaze on

Grammar Question:

5.  Transform this sentence from Treasure Island using a modal verb to indicate probability: “The treasure is possibly hidden on that part of the island.”

Section Six:

How that personage haunted my dreams, I need scarcely tell you. On stormy nights, when the wind shook the four corners of the house and the surf roared along the cove and up the cliffs, I would see him in a thousand forms, and with a thousand diabolical expressions. Now the leg would be cut off at the knee, now at the hip; now he was a monstrous kind of a creature who had never had but the one leg, and that in the middle of his body. To see him leap and run and pursue me over hedge and ditch was the worst of nightmares. And altogether I paid pretty dear for my monthly fourpenny piece, in the shape of these abominable fancies.

Now let’s recap any new vocabulary:

Synonyms (ROARED):  bellow, thunder, howl, rumble, growl

Synonyms (DIABOLICAL):  fiendish, devilish, demonic, wicked, malevolent

Grammar Question:

6.  Create a sentence about Treasure Island using a modal verb to express the ability of Captain Smollett to command the ship.

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Watch the movie Here:



1. The modal verb used for probability is “might.” An alternative sentence using a different modal verb is: “The pirates could have missed some of the buried gold.”

2. Rewritten sentence using a modal verb of obligation: “Jim must stay quiet and hide.”

3. Sentence using a modal verb to express the ability of Long John Silver’s parrot to mimic human speech: “Long John Silver’s parrot can mimic human speech impressively.”

4. The modal verb used to show obligation is “had to.” Its purpose in the sentence is to express the necessity for Jim to find a hiding spot before being discovered by pirates.

5. The transformed sentence using a modal verb to indicate probability: “The treasure might be hidden on that part of the island.”

6. A sentence about Treasure Island using a modal verb: “Captain Flint should have secured the treasure map more carefully, as it eventually fell into Jim’s hands.”

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