Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2014 – SEPTEMBER READ – Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Published September 30, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

John, Susan, Titty and Roger sail their boat, Swallow, to a deserted Island for a sumer camping trip. Exploring and playing sailors is an adventure in itself but the island holds more excitement in store. Two fierce Amazon Pirates, Nancy and Peggy, challenge them to war and a summer of battles and alliances ensues.

What did I think?:

I first came across Swallows and Amazons as a child and really enjoyed it, as a result I believe I borrowed the other books in the series from the library as fast as I could read them! Reading it again as an adult was fun and brought back many fond memories of the four children and their adventures on Wild Cat Island. The book was published in 1930 and was inspired by the author Arthur Ransome teaching the children of his friends, the Altounyans to sail one summer. In fact, three of the names of our main protagonists were taken directly from that family. In the novel, the four oldest Walker children are staying with their mother, nurse and baby sister Vicky (known affectionately as “fat Vicky”) in a farm on the Lake District during the school holidays. The children are keen sailors, especially the eldest John and Susan and when the story begins, their father, who is away at sea has just given the children permission to camp upon one of the uninhabited islands so that they can play at being shipwrecked like the characters in their favourite books, Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island.

The children are delighted at the opportunity and commandeer a vessel called the Swallow for getting to the island and for using during their stay. It is not long however, before their daydreams of pirates is realised as they spy another boat which bears the Jolly Roger flag and the name Amazon, which visits their island and attempt to claim it as their own. Luckily the “pirates” are two other children, Nancy and Peggy who are also keen sailors and become firm friends with the Walker children after a truce is agreed. The Amazon girls have an uncle whom all the children name “Captain Flint,” a nod to Treasure Island. The ex-sailor owns a houseboat on the lake with a green parrot he keeps for company as he has been practically disowned by Nancy and Peggy due to his recent lack of effort and nonchalance when it comes to sailing/pirating skills! The six children have a whale of a time on the island together and have many adventures as they live out their fantasy of being marooned by a shipwreck.

I think I probably enjoyed this book more as a child than an adult although it does rise head and shoulders above the disappointing Swiss Family Robinson which Chrissi and I reviewed for our Kid Lit choice last month. I remember loving the idea of camping out on an island which is completely uninhabited, making the possibilities for exploring and playing endless. Even though the book was written in 1930, it reads almost like a piece of modern fiction and I think would still be relevant and exciting for children today. Favourite part? The boat war between the Swallows and the Amazons which was both exciting and filled with suspense. Sometimes I found that all the references to sailing went slightly over my head and to be honest, I switched off slightly at any points where the detail seemed a bit technical. Apart from that, it was wonderful to read a book where you had a glimpse into the imagination of children which sadly in real life, disappears far too quickly.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


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3 comments on “Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2014 – SEPTEMBER READ – Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

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