A terrible storm strands a Swiss pastor, with his wife and four sons, on a tropical island. Luckily, the Robinsons are optimistic and inventive, and with what they salvage from the wrecked ship, the island's abundant fruits, plants, and animals, they soon adapt - each day discovering new dangers, skills, and delights in their strange new life.
About the Author
Multiple award-winning author Jon Scieszka grew up in Flint, Michigan, the second oldest and the nicest of six boys. Jon went to school at Culver Military Academy in Indiana where he was a Lieutenant; Albion College in Michigan where he studied to be a doctor; and Columbia University in New York, where he got a M.F.A. in fi ction. He taught elementary school in New York for ten years in a variety of positions. In addition to his work as an author, Jon also runs a web-based literacy program called “Guys Read” that is designed to encourage boys, particularly reluctant readers, to get involved with books. Currently, he lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and two kids.
Recently, Jon was named the country’s first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a joint effort of the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council. During his two-year role as Ambassador, he will act as a spokesperson for children’s literature, speaking to groups of parents, teachers, and children to encourage the importance of reading.
Read an Excerpt
The Swiss Family Robinson
By Johann David Wyss
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2015 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
All rights reserved.
THE TEMPEST HAD RAGED FOR six days, and on the seventh seemed to increase. The ship had been so far driven from its course, that no one on board knew where we were. Every one was exhausted with fatigue and watching. The shattered vessel began to leak in many places, the oaths of the sailors were changed to prayers, and each thought only how to save his own life. "Children," said I, to my terrified boys, who were clinging round me, "God can save us if He will. To Him nothing is impossible; but if He thinks it good to call us to Him, let us not murmur; we shall not be separated." My excellent wife dried her tears, and from that moment became more tranquil. We knelt down to pray for the help of our Heavenly Father; and the fervour and emotion of my innocent boys proved to me that even children can pray, and find in prayer consolation and peace.
We rose from our knees strengthened to bear the afflictions that hung over us. Suddenly we heard amid the roaring of the waves the cry of "Land! Land!" At that moment the ship struck on a rock; the concussion threw us down.
We heard a loud cracking, as if the vessel was parting asunder; we felt that we were aground, and heard the captain cry, in a tone of despair, "We are lost! Launch the boats!"
These words were a dagger to my heart, and the lamentations of my children were louder than ever. I then recollected myself, and said, "Courage, my darlings, we are still, above water, and the land is near. God helps those who trust in Him. Remain here, and I will endeavour to save us."
I went on deck, and was instantly thrown down, and wet through by a huge sea; a second followed. I struggled boldly with the waves, and succeeded in keeping myself up, when I saw, with terror, the extent of our wretchedness. The shattered vessel was almost in two; the crew had crowded into the boats, and the last sailor was cutting the rope. I cried out, and prayed them to take us with them; but my voice was drowned in the roar of the tempest, nor could they have returned for us through waves that ran mountains high. All hope from their assistance was lost; but I was consoled by observing that the water did not enter the ship above a certain height. The stern, under which lay the cabin which contained all that was dear to me on earth, was immovably fixed between two rocks. At the same time I observed, towards the south, traces of land, which, though wild and barren, was now the haven of my almost expiring hopes; no longer being able to depend on any human aid. I returned to my family, and endeavoured to appear calm. "Take courage," cried I, "there is yet hope for us; the vessel, in striking between the rocks, is fixed in a position which protects our cabin above the water, and if the wind should settle to-morrow, we may possibly reach the land."
This assurance calmed my children, and as usual, they depended on all I told them; they rejoiced that the heaving of the vessel had ceased, as, while it lasted, they were continually thrown against each other. My wife, more accustomed to read my countenance, discovered my uneasiness; and by a sign, I explained to her that I had lost all hope. I felt great consolation in seeing that she supported our misfortune with truly Christian resignation.
"Let us take some food," said she; "with the body, the mind is strengthened; this must be a night of trial."
Night came, and the tempest continued its fury, tearing away the planks from the devoted vessel with a fearful crashing. It appeared absolutely impossible that the boats could have out-lived the storm.
My wife had prepared some refreshment, of which the children partook with an appetite that we could not feel. The three younger ones retired to their beds, and soon slept soundly. Fritz, the eldest, watched with me. "I have been considering," said he, "how we could save ourselves. If we only had some cork jackets, or bladders, for mamma and my brothers, you and I don't need them, we could then swim to land."
"A good thought," said I. "I will try during the night to contrive some expedient to secure our safety." We found some small empty barrels in the cabin, which we tied two together with our handkerchiefs, leaving a space between for each child, and fastened this new swimming apparatus under their arms. My wife prepared the same for herself. We then collected some knives, string, tinder-box, and such little necessaries as we could put in our pockets; thus, in case the vessel should fall to pieces during the night, we hoped we might be enabled to reach land.
At length Fritz, overcome with fatigue, lay down and slept with his brothers. My wife and I, too anxious to rest, spent that dreadful night in prayer, and in arranging various plans. How gladly we welcomed the light of day, shining through an opening. The wind was subsiding, the sky serene, and I watched the sun rise with renewed hope. I called my wife and children on deck. The younger ones were surprised to find we were alone. They inquired what had become of the sailors, and how we should manage the ship alone.
"Children," said I, "one more powerful than man has protected us till now, and will still extend a saving arm to us, if we do not give way to complaint and despair. Let all hands set to work. Remember that excellent maxim: God helps those who help themselves. Let us all consider what is best to do now."
"Let us leap into the sea," cried Fritz, "and swim to the shore."
"Very well for you," replied Ernest, "who can swim; but we should be all drowned. Would it not be better to construct a raft and go all together?"
"That might do," added I, "if we were strong enough for such a work, and if a raft was not always so dangerous a conveyance. But away, boys, look about you, and seek for anything that may be useful to us."
We all dispersed to different parts of the vessel. For my own part I went to the provision-room, to look after the casks of water and other necessaries of life; my wife visited the livestock and fed them, for they were almost famished; Fritz sought for arms and ammunition; Ernest for the carpenter's tools. Jack had opened the captain's cabin, and was immediately thrown down by two large dogs, who leaped on him so roughly that he cried out as if they were going to devour him. However, hunger had rendered them so docile that they licked his hands, and he soon recovered his feet, seized the largest by the ears, and mounting his back, gravely rode up to me as I was coming from the hold. I could not help laughing; I applauded his courage, but recommended him always to be prudent with animals of that kind, who are often dangerous when hungry.
My little troop began to assemble. Fritz had found two fowling-pieces, some bags of powder and shot, and some balls, in horn flasks. Ernest was loaded with an axe and hammer, a pair of pincers, a large pair of scissors, and an auger showed itself half out of his pocket.
Francis had a large box under his arm, from which he eagerly produced what he called little pointed hooks. His brothers laughed at his prize. "Silence," said I, "the youngest has made the most valuable addition to our stores. These are fish-hooks, and may be more useful for the preservation of our lives than anything the ship contains. However, Fritz and Ernest have not done amiss."
"For my part," said my wife, "I only contribute good news; I have found a cow, an ass, two goats, six sheep, and a sow with young. I have fed them, and hope we may preserve them."
"Very well," said I to my little workmen, "I am satisfied with all but Master Jack, who, instead of anything useful, has contributed two great eaters, who will do us more harm than good."
"They can help us to hunt when we get to land," said Jack.
"Yes," replied I, "but can you devise any means of our getting there?"
"It does not seem at all difficult," said the spirited little fellow; "put us each into a great tub, and let us float to shore. I remember sailing capitally that way on godpapa's great pond at S — ."
"A very good idea, Jack; good counsel may sometimes be given even by a child. Be quick, boys, give me the saw and auger, with some nails, we will see what we can do." I remembered seeing some empty casks in the hold. We went down and found them floating. This gave us less difficulty in getting them upon the lower deck, which was but just above the water. They were of strong wood, bound with iron hoops, and exactly suited my purpose; my sons and I therefore began to saw them through the middle.
After long labour, we had eight tubs all the same height. We refreshed ourselves with wine and biscuit, which we had found in some of the casks. I then contemplated with delight my little squadron of boats ranged in a line; and was surprised that my wife still continued depressed. She looked mournfully on them. "I can never venture in one of these tubs," said she.
"Wait a little, till my work is finished," replied I, "and you will see it is more to be depended on than this broken vessel."
I sought out a long flexible plank, and arranged eight tubs on it, close to each other, leaving a piece at each end to form a curve upwards, like the keel of a vessel. We then nailed them firmly to the plank, and to each other. We nailed a plank at each side, of the same length as the first, and succeeded in producing a sort of boat, divided into eight compartments, in which it did not appear difficult to make a short voyage, over a calm sea.
But, unluckily, our wonderful vessel proved so heavy, that our united efforts could not move it an inch. I sent Fritz to bring me the jack-screw, and, in the meantime, sawed a thick round pole into pieces; then raising the fore-part of our work by means of the powerful machine, Fritz placed one of these rollers under it.
Ernest was very anxious to know how this small machine could accomplish more than our united strength. I explained to him, as well as I could, the power of the lever of Archimedes, with which he had declared he could move the world, if he had but a point to rest it on; and I promised my son to take the machine to pieces when we were on shore, and explain the mode of operation. I then told them that God, to compensate for the weakness of man, had bestowed on him reason, invention, and skill in workmanship. The result of these had produced a science which, under the name of Mechanics, taught us to increase and extend our limited powers incredibly by the aid of instruments.
Jack remarked that the jack-screw worked very slowly.
"Better slowly, than not at all," said I. "It is a principle in mechanics, that what is gained in time is lost in power. The jack is not meant to work rapidly, but to raise heavy weights; and the heavier the weight, the slower the operation. But, can you tell me how we can make up for this slowness?"
"Oh, by turning the handle quicker, to be sure!"
"Quite wrong; that would not aid us at all. Patience and Reason are the two fairies, by whose potent help I hope to get our boat afloat."
I quickly proceeded to tie a strong cord to the after-part of it, and the other end to a beam in the ship, which was still firm, leaving it long enough for security; then introducing two more rollers underneath, and working with the jack, we succeeded in launching our bark, which passed into the water with such velocity, that but for our rope it would have gone out to sea. Unfortunately, it leaned so much on one side, that none of the boys would venture into it. I was in despair, when I suddenly remembered it only wanted ballast to keep it in equilibrium. I hastily threw in anything I got hold of that was heavy, and soon had my boat level, and ready for occupation. They now contended who should enter first; but I stopped them, reflecting that these restless children might easily capsize our vessel. I remembered that savage nations made use of an out-rigger, to prevent their canoe oversetting, and this I determined to add to my work. I fixed two portions of a topsail-yard, one over the prow, the other across the stern, in such a manner that they should not be in the way in pushing off our boat from the wreck. I forced the end of each yard into the bunghole of an empty brandy-cask, to keep them steady during our progress.
It was now necessary to clear the way for our departure. I got into the first tub, and managed to get the boat into the cleft in the ship's side, by way of a haven; I then returned, and, with the axe and saw, cut away right and left all that could obstruct our passage. Then we secured some oars, to be ready for our voyage next day.
The day had passed in toil, and we were compelled to spend another night on the wreck, though we knew it might not remain till morning. We took a regular meal, for during the day we had scarcely had time to snatch a morsel of bread and a glass of wine. More composed than on the preceding night, we retired to rest. I took the precaution to fasten the swimming apparatus across the shoulders of my three younger children and my wife, for fear another storm might destroy the vessel, and cast us into the sea. I also advised my wife to put on a sailor's dress, as more convenient for her expected toils and trials. She reluctantly consented, and, after a short absence, appeared in the dress of a youth who had served as a volunteer in the vessel. She felt very timid and awkward in her new dress; but I showed her the advantage of the change, and, at last, she was reconciled, and joined in the laughter of the children at her strange disguise. She then got into her hammock, and we enjoyed a pleasant sleep, to prepare us for new labours.CHAPTER 2
AT BREAK OF DAY WE were awake and ready, and after morning prayer, I addressed my children thus: "We are now, my dear boys, with the help of God, about to attempt our deliverance. Before we go, provide our poor animals with food for some days; we cannot take them with us, but if our voyage succeed, we may return for them. Are you ready? Collect what you wish to carry away, but only things absolutely necessary for our actual wants." I planned that our first cargo should consist of a barrel of powder, three fowling-pieces, three muskets, two pair of pocket pistols, and one pair larger, ball, shot, and lead as much as we could carry, with a bullet-mould; and I wished each of my sons, as well as their mother, should have a complete game-bag, of which there were several in the officers' cabins. We then set apart a box of portable soup, another of biscuit, an iron pot, a fishing-rod, a chest of nails, and one of carpenter's tools, also some sailcloth to make a tent. In fact my boys collected so many things, we were compelled to leave some behind, though I exchanged all the useless ballast for necessaries.
When all was ready, we implored the blessing of God on our undertaking, and prepared to embark in our tubs. At this moment the cocks crowed a sort of reproachful farewell to us; we had forgotten them; I immediately proposed to take our poultry with us, geese, ducks, fowls and pigeons, for, as I observed to my wife, if we could not feed them, they would, at any rate, feed us.
We placed our ten hens and two cocks in a covered tub; the rest we set at liberty, hoping the geese and ducks might reach the shore by water, and the pigeons by flight.
We waited a little for my wife, who came loaded with a large bag, which she threw into the tub that contained her youngest son. I concluded it was intended to steady him, or for a seat, and made no observation on it. Here follows the order of our embarkation. In the first division, sat the tender mother, the faithful and pious wife. In the second, our amiable little Francis, six years old, and of a sweet disposition.
In the third, Fritz, our eldest, fourteen or fifteen years old, a curly-headed, clever, intelligent and lively youth.
In the fourth, the powder-cask, with the fowls and the sailcloth.
Our provisions filled the fifth.
In the sixth, our heedless Jack, ten years old, enterprising, bold, and useful.
In the seventh, Ernest, twelve years of age, well-informed and rational, but somewhat selfish and indolent.
In the eighth, myself, an anxious father, charged with the important duty of guiding the vessel to save my dear family. Each of us had some useful tools beside us; each held an oar, and had a swimming apparatus at hand, in case we were unfortunately upset. The tide was rising when we left, which I considered might assist my weak endeavours. We turned our out-riggers length-ways, and thus passed from the cleft of the ship into the open sea. We rowed with all our might, to reach the blue land we saw at a distance, but for some time in vain, as the boat kept turning round, and made no progress. At last I contrived to steer it, so that we went straight forward.
Excerpted from The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. Copyright © 2015 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
|1.||Shipwrecked and Alone||1|
|2.||A Desolate Island||9|
|3.||We Explore Our Island||19|
|4.||The Homeward Journey||28|
|5.||We Revisit the Wreck||35|
|6.||Mother Makes a Suggestion||45|
|7.||We Build a Bridge||52|
|8.||The Journey to the Wonderful Trees||58|
|10.||A Visit to Tentholm||71|
|11.||The Strange Animal||78|
|12.||Towed by a Turtle||85|
|13.||An Important Experiment||92|
|14.||The Pinnace and the Petard||99|
|15.||The Calabash Wood||105|
|16.||Last Visit to the Wreck||115|
|17.||The Buffalo Hunt||122|
|18.||The Hollow Tree||131|
|19.||The Rainy Season||139|
|20.||The Salt Cavern||145|
|23.||The Island Sports Carnival||165|
|24.||A Midnight Raid||173|
|25.||The Stranded Whale||184|
|26.||Jack Discovers a Skeleton||193|
|27.||Death of a Monster||198|
|28.||An Inland Journey||208|
|30.||Ostriches and Bears||221|
|31.||The Captive Ostrich||230|
|33.||A Visit to Whale Island||244|
|34.||Our First Harvest||251|
|35.||The Trial of the "Sea Horse"||257|
|36.||News by Pigeon Post||263|
|37.||To the Rescue||268|
|38.||After Ten Years||274|
|39.||The Mysterious Message||281|
|40.||Fritz Says Good-bye||288|
|43.||The Mysterious Guns||311|
|44.||Three Cheers for New Switzerland!||320|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I won't spend much time reviewing the story itself. Just about everyone knows that it's a charming but farfetched story, which is strongly inspired by Robinson Crusoe. I do want to point out, that despite being in the Stirling Unabridged Series, it is most definitely abridged. There are several examples - the story of the roast maggots from the sago palm is missing. They eat potatoes but forget to harvest them. They melt berries to make candles but never collect them. In the fishing sequence toward the middle of the book, Jack makes a remark about his father's small fry, comparing the large fish he is catching to the herring his father caught earlier, but the episode in which his father catches the "small fry" is omitted. I recommend that one purchase not this edition, but one based on the 1877 translation by Kingston (the Puffin Classics unabridged edition is one such).
Fyi, this is one of the many shortened versions and of poor quality....of the storyline and conversion from printed edition.
Stranded on a deserted island, the Robinson family must survive with just their knowledge and endurance. The Robinson family became stranded on an island and had to survive with six family members-Franz, Jack, Ernest, Fritz, Mom, and Dad. They built a winter house, a summer house, and they had tons of animals! Although ten years on the island was difficult, they survived. This book was great. It was very exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat. I recommend it for anyone that likes castaway-type books. They were very smart and knew what almost everything in the wild was. They found an animal that looked like a wild boar, but it wasn¿t! They found a plant that was at first unfamiliar, then they realized what this exotic plant was. They knew how to build their houses and structures and how to keep animals, hunt, and take out the good meat! They even knew what was bad and/or poisonous to eat and touch. They were very good with animals. They caught many animals and tamed them to help them hunt, or to just be a pet. They caught and tamed a baby monkey, a baby jackal, an eagle, an onager, a baby buffalo, and even an ostrich! They took care of them and the animals soon learned what the family wanted them to do. They had a very interesting way of rehabilitating their animals they used smoke from a cigar and stupefied the animal. Then it¿s almost as though the animal started its life over. The Robinson family handled the wreck very well. If another family got stranded on that island, they might have freaked out. The Robinson family didn¿t, they built their house easily, hunted, and skinned animals without any difficulty. Some people might have been nervous to skin sharks or whales, but they didn¿t, they were excited to have whale skin and shark skin. This book was excellent. It was about a tenth grade reading level, but it was worth it. It kept me guessing what would happen next. It would seem obvious that something would happen next, and then something else would happen! I recommend it for anyone that loves the castaway type books. E. Gray
I had my fourth grade son read this and he found it engaging. He loved how resourceful the family was in their circumstance of being shipwrecked on an island. It is a challenging book for this age, but the subject matter kept him interested.
THIS BOOK IS AWSOME!
This is a great story book to read to children and have them use their imagination!
Pay for the fee based file, this one is full of errors. Specifically, this looks like a scanned work that some software tried to convert into text. The result is syntax errors all over the place. While I can correct it while reading to my kids because I've read this before, my kids don't have the skills nor the knowledge to read this file without being really confused by all the random symbols that show up.
An outstanding book! It is about a family who gets wrecked on a desert island. They have to survive using their wits and any natural resources. I might try reading Robinson Crusoe. Although the formatting is a bit weird, I would recommend it for anybody!
The kids love it. We read it on a long car trip. The vocab is great. The flora and fauna it described are awesome. Mostly I really the contrast with the values from a older time period. This is a great kids book.
Wow. This ebook is in terrible shape. Pay for the real copy.
Read this in Jr High, fell in love with it, If you love stories of survival, you will enjoy this book, have read both versions, bridged and unabridged, loved them both, some of the ways he describes in this book to prepare certain items I've used during my Military Career, a must read novel who wants to get away from your problems,
A great book...simply a classic. It teaches moral value and useful tips. It is a great survival book, which has a suprise every second. If you read this book, you will not be disappointed!
I really enjoyed this book as a fun tale of a Swiss family's surprisingly good fortune (unfortunately their luck is one-in-a-million and to good to be true) as they try to survive on a tropical island that is loaded with lucky finds. They salvagd a ton of goods from the ship and are able to survive for about ten years and are then rescued.They have many minor adventures on their huge island dubbed New Switzerland( i.e. serpent, expeditions and damaged houses ruined by unruly chimpanzees). The scientificly inaccurate parts about this lovely story is that potatoes don't grow in the tropics, fruit trees from Switzerland don'grow there either, and the variety of life that is described don't always match up in their proper biome. Overall though, it is one of my favorite classics. Another reminder is that you shouldn't bother with the older disney movie if you haven't seen it because it is so inaccurate that it disgusts me greatly to see a classic as exquisite as this being ruined by Disney. The movie is a nice adventure as it's self, but if you are talking about the book with someone and you are arguing about a certain part of it, don't turn to the movie for facts that were in the book because you won't find any. If you are no nothing about this book and want an opinion, I will tell you now that this is a great work of literature that is a highly recomended book to read for all ages. I really enjoyed this book.
This book could definately by for teens! If you liked Robinson Crusoe you'll love this!!!
So many paperback books utilize a small font, so the words are tiny and difficult to read. This Penguin Classic reprint is great---the paper is bright and the font is "normal", which make reading this book a pleasure! The 5" x 7" size makes it easy to slip into a pocketbook or backpack.
So this is the best book i ever read! Pleaseweaywease read it so this story is full of action i love action and read kidnapped to this book is great awesome fun and actiony i read this 30 times read it i put a post about kidnapped to! Read it pleasyweasywease! :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
Good book for 5 to 15 year olds. Lots of adventure.
Instead of words, its got little stupid symbols like this: ?^^<>•`¿\. Do you see what i mean? DO NOT BUY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is an ocr book with a lot of typos.
This book was really boring.It was really hard to understand bottom line do not waste your time buying it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It's just a little past believing. I greatly doubt that you can have penguins and kangaroos on the same island. Everything seems to go just right, which also seems unreal. Defoe must have had a good imagination, I'll give him that.
First of all, why in the world would you not get in the life boat when the boat started to fill with water. and then how in the heck would that dinky little tub float them to that island?! why were they complaining. i mean they had food, water and a place to live, even ifit isn't their real home. this book was boring, stupid, and should be banned for bordem.
at the beginning of the book i thought it would be interesting but as the book went on i started to see how it was going to turn out. in this story (from my point of view) it was like they where on a vacation, i mean they always had shelter, food,fresh water, and things like that, in which that made the story very uninterseting to me.i also know that other kids in my class disliked this book as well. that book made me not want to come to school because it made reading class not so fun anymore.thank you for letting me write how i feel.
"The Open Road" ebook has no errors. When I was a child, my plan for the future was to live on some land in the Midwest far away from everything. There, my husband, children and I would live happily ever after by ourselves. Some days, I still long for that dream to come true. Of course, it is not God's plan for me. I must be about my Father's business, and that includes being with other people to tell them about Jesus Christ's dying to save them from their sins. God's plan for me is a good plan. Better, still, is His eternal plan for me: to live with Him and His children for all eternity in peace and joy. Life can't get any better than that! "God helps those who help themselves." The axiom Father Robinson relied upon. Well, praise God! He, also, helps those who can't help themselves!" Poor boys! At the beginning of the book, their father reproves them for every mistake they make - although, he does applaud them for the good things they do. He's a little preachy, though. Well into the book, I found the reason: he is a preacher - a minister of the church. That accounts for their family prayers morning and evening and observance of the weekly Sabbath rest. It accounts for his reliance upon God who watches over them all. So does the time in which they lived. They wouldn't have been considered to be religious fanatics. This is a good book. An excellent book. Every time I read it, I enjoy it immensely and plan to read it again in a few years. That's a good plan.