Friday, February 22, 2013

The Lost World

The LostWorld, Arthur Conan Doyle
(Hodder & Stoughton, 1912; many reprints)
Ages 10 & up

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.

There are several fine print editions, as well as this free Kindle edition which I used and liked. We commend the book to you heartily. 

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