, Arthur Conan Doyle
(Hodder & Stoughton, 1912; many reprints)
My older boys (ages 16, 15, 13) read this for
school recently, and we had some great conversations about it. They really
enjoyed the book and my 10 year old loved sitting in on the conversations (I didn’t
realize how much he was listening in until one day he was in tears when mom
called him away for another task and he pleaded to be able to sit in on the
older boys’ discussion).
Readers will probably recognize Doyle as the
author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, though we read that Doyle himself
preferred Challenger, the main character of this story and some others, to
Holmes. I have now read two non-Sherlock books of Doyle’s and really enjoyed
them both (the other is The Refugees
This story centers on the discovery of prehistoric
animals in a remote area of South America. Professor Challenger journeyed to this
area and got just a glimpse. Upon his return to England he was mocked for his
claims, so eventually an expedition sets out to verify these claims and much adventure
results. The adventure, suspense and humor made this a very entertaining story.
Doyle obviously knew how to tell a good story. My boys said they enjoyed it immensely.
The story also provides opportunities for a number
of good conversations. The book assumes the truthfulness of evolution and the
expedition discovers a “missing link,” ape-humanoid tribe. This provided us with
good conversations on whether the stories portrayal actually fits the
evolutionary schema and even what suffices for good evidence (the Veritas Press
Omnibus IV curriculum
was quite helpful here).
The characters were also vivid and ripe for
discussion. Professor Challenger is so arrogant as to be laughable in many
places. Professor Summerlee is more humble but both men are assured of the
reign of scientific explanation, relying on reason alone. Lord John Roxton is the
prototypical man of action- industrious, courageous and honorable. Though
intelligent, he is not as aware of or interested in the academic subtleties. He
is, however, just the man you’d want on a dangerous adventure. He was the favorite
character of my boys. Lastly, the narrator, Edward Malone is a journalist who
is the novice in both science and adventure. He undertakes the journey in an
effort to win the affection of young woman, and along the way demonstrates good
common sense and bravery.
Labels: adventure, science