I hate to do this, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to give my beloved Jules Verne a mere 2 stars for this book. I have been huge fan of "The Mysterious Island" since I was probably 10 or 12, and when I found out this book was a prequel to "The Mysterious Island" I thought "why have I never heard of this book??!!". Well, now I know why. Not every book every successful author writes is worthwhile. The premise of "Captain Grant's Children" (also published under "In Search of the Castaways") is a mysterious message found in a bottle. The message was thrown into the sea by Captain Grant who has been shipwrecked and presumably marooned somewhere. The latitude is the only number legible, so a search along the 37th parallel south is begun. Lord and Lady Glenarvan fund the expedition and provide the yacht, bringing Mary and Robert Grant, the children of Captain Grant, with them.Sounds like the beginning of a fairly good adventure, yes? Well, alas there are complications. The characters are rather wooden and unnatural, and some of the situations are frankly absurd. We began reading this book aloud after I had asked for it as a Christmas present. We had to halt our readings when we got to the point where the party is hiking in Patagonia along the 37th parallel. Huddled in a hut (I said that on purpose for literary emphasis), half frozen because they have been forced to hike very high in the Andes, an earthquake suddenly turns the very ground into a moving avalanche of gravel and skree. The search party almost "ski" down the mountainside with the rubble from the earthquake. (absurd situation #1) When they reach the bottom of the mountain, they discover young lad Robert is missing while all the rest of them have somehow survived with only scratches (absurd situation #2). Searching for him they eventually see a large condor flying while carrying something. You guessed it.... the condor has young lad Robert gripped in its nasty talons!!! (absurd situation #3) Hoots of derision begin among the listeners, and then become howls of laughter when a native southern American named Thulcave sees poor young Robert and shoots the condor in flight (absurd situation #4) and the dead condor then continues to hold young lad Robert in his nasty pesky talons and falls like a parachute to the ground (absurd situation #5) delivering a stunned but otherwise safe young lad Robert to his friends (absurd situation #6). All this in about 10 pages. Up until Thulcave arrived on the scene, we had been rooting for the condor because young lad Robert was so annoying! Poor Jules Verne was trying out a theme that he developed more successfully in "Around the World in 80 Days" (published in 1873) and then also later in "The Mysterious Island" (published in 1874). But in this particular book, it just isn't really worth it. Read "The Mysterious Island" to find out about Ayrton and how he came to be on Tabor island.