Fifteen boys from a posh school in Auckland, New Zealand are prepared for a six week summer cruise; but the night before their official departure, their ship breaks away from the dock, drifts to sea and is caught up in a storm. This is the tale of their heroic Swiss Family Robinson adventure (no Lord of the Flies landscape here) as they survive the storm and beach on a deserted island, where they are forced to live by their wits for two years. The old master comes up with a solid, if not a classic, story complete with dissension among the thirteen-year-old leaders: Briant, the sturdy, intelligent, courageous French boy vs. Doniphant, the brilliant, rebellious English snob, and practical Gordon mediating with American diplomacy. The island has infinite curiosities with its huge lake, glimpses of penguins and seals, oak and sugar maple trees contrasting oddly with nandu birds, vicuna and guanaco. Then there's the mystery of the island's one former occupant. The resourceful lads finally settle in quite comfortably, forming their own political system until Doniphant's faction decides to split. But then there's another shipwreck and they are confronted with seven criminals whose one hostage, Kate Ready, an American, escapes to join the boys. Verne, as usual, offers precise characterizations and detail to augment a tale that should appeal to any young adventurer.