Jane's Reviews > A Long Vacation

A Long Vacation by Jules Verne
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's review
Apr 30, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: classic, young-adult, fiction
Read in April, 2011 , read count: 6

This book is also known as Adrift in the Pacific, the title under which I found it at http://www.archive.org/details/americana as a free download. It is almost nonexistent in print form these days, yet it's one I read as a child probably a half dozen times. Why hasn't it stood the test of time with Verne's other books? It's high adventure, the story of 15 school boys, ages 7-15, accidentally set adrift on the first night of school holiday in Auckland and how they survived two years on an island. The language is a bit archaic in spots, but I found myself drawn into their predicament just as I was decades ago. The treatment of the one African servant might be problematic for some, although it was probably way ahead of its time when Verne penned the tale. Moki is described constantly as intelligent and resourceful, although he is clearly a servant of the other schoolboys.

This left me thinking of so many other classics with the same dilemma (besides Huck Finn!!) such as Dr. Doolittle, other titles by the author of A Girl of the Limberlost, etc. Do we set aside such stories, revise the parts we don't like, or...use them as teachable moments!!! What if teachers encouraged students to point out bits in texts such as this that don't ring true to what we now know and honor about people from different backgrounds? Can we discuss how these prejudices were kept alive in the past and how some people harbor them today? Can we talk about which authors were completely insensitive and which were ahead of their time even if we don't like it now? Since children will in truth encounter prejudice their whole lives, it seems to me that such books can help us prepare them for battling it in a much more enlightened way than if we only serve them sanitized texts...
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message 1: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Great questions, Jane - thanks for giving all of us food for thought!


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