Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Book Review: Captains Courageous

Captains Courageous
Rudyard Kipling
Published 1897

I have not read any Rudyard Kipling until now.  This month the kids and I are studying poetry by Kipling, and to accompany our theme, I chose Captains Courageous, for literature.  Ugh!  It left my tongue in knots.  The dialogue is spoken in different voices, not only with seamen lingo, but also using accents from different parts of the country and world.  I never warmed up to it.

Aside from that, the plot involves a 15-year old spoiled brat, Harvey, who is babied by his mother and neglected by his father, a wealthy railroad man.  Harvey falls from a steamship into the ocean on his way to Europe and is rescued by fishermen off the New England coast.  He demands, in typical fashion, to be immediately returned to shore; but this is only where his adventures and life lessons begin.

After a season aboard the fishing schooner with the fishermen who rescued him, Harvey does acquire a different view of the world and learns how to maintain respectful relationships with others. He now understands the benefits of hard work and earning his keep.  It was a quick way to turn a feeble boy into a courageous young man. 

When finally the schooner returns to land, Harvey contacts his parents, and they are soon by his side. They hardly recognize this mature, self-controlled, compassionate young man.  In addition, his father learns a lesson as well: he was all wrong in his parenting, or lack thereof; from now on things are going to be different between Father and son, for good.  


In addition to Captains Courageous, we have been reading out of Poetry for Young People Rudyard Kipling.  We do enjoy his poetry very much.  Father and son relationships were obviously very important to the poet.  


Sharon Henning said...

I have never read this story although I am familiar with the title. Do you think it was worth reading?

It is hard to read dialect. I was reading out loud to my mother a book that had a lot of Scottish brogue and I finally gave up.

My favorite memory as a child was reading Kipling's Riki Tiki Tavi. I read it over and over again. Jungle Book I couldn't get into.

Ruth said...

Well, it is not a bad story. It's a great concept. However, it must appeal to your children - maybe who haven't read Harry Potter, yet; maybe even something a father would read with his son. My kids liked it.

A friend told me the other day that she read it herself and finished it, and then decided later to read it aloud to her kids. But the dialogue was so challenging, she stopped reading it to them and told them if they wanted to find out what happened later, they would have to read it themselves. It's that challenging.

Again, I've never read Kipling, not even Jungle Book; but I can see how he was a favorite children's author.