Robinson Crusoe belonged to a different category, and Dana's Two Years before the Mast was little known to English youth. It seems to me fair to say that Treasure Island is the only great modern classic written especially for younger readers.
I find that girls enjoy Treasure Island just as well as boys. The book stands alone in its wonderfully vivid and dramatic story-telling, which is characterized throughout by an entirely sane and wholesome tone and purpose. When I imagine myself again a boyish reader comparing this story with the old favorites like Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver s Travels, The Pilgrim's Progress, The Swiss Family Robinson, and Tom Brown at Rugby—the first three not written originally for children—I find myself impelled to rank Treasure Island as an equal and in some points as a superior. This may seem heresy, but it is the result of a peculiarly close and sympathetic study of these and other famous books for boys and girls.
Although this was Stevenson's first long romantic story, he showed the born story-teller's instinct for a beginning which seizes upon the reader at once. We are absorbed in the first few lines and the interest deepens as we go on. How it moves and holds us—the advent of that precious trio, Billy Bones, Old Pew, and Black Dog, and their performances at the "Admiral Benbow." It is so apt an introduction to the strange tale of after happenings. And from a boy's viewpoint the end is perfect.
While children, as a rule, do not understand the value of money, yet they keenly appreciate the realization of a climax where the boy hero can fairly bury himself in golden coins. It is natural that the last chapter should be read with a tinge of envy and a yearning to lay hands upon Jim Hawkins's bags of gold. And the romantic glamour of the situation appeals to older readers also who will do well to turn oftener from the average novel of the day to this most delightful example of ideal realism.
It is hard to understand why Stevenson preferred to have the story published first without illustrations. With his keen artistic sense he must have felt that fitting illustration would be