In many ways this is the ultimate children’s adventure:
Pirates, natives, exploration, tension, scary scenes, humiliation, exhilaration, excitement, battle, peace-making, new enemies, new friends and above all…
Freedom from the normal world.
In Swallows and Amazons the protagonists inhabit two worlds.
In the first they are family members bound by the usual restrictions that brothers and sisters – on holiday in the Lake District with their mother and not-yet-toddler sister – have.
And then they discover Swallow, a small
sailing dingy ocean-going schooner in which they sail on to Wild Cat Island and set up base.
With their island base established, the adventures come thick and fast.
Excellently told, though some might say this book could be a little clumsy and that the use of sailing slang might be a barrier.
Some might try Swallows and Amazons and say that the terminology would be an obstacle to young readers.
I would argue otherwise, for surely even the widely-read (and much inferior) Harry Potter has introduced children to a world of muggles, quidditch, etc…
Which makes me wonder what the many Harry Potter readers would think of Swallows and Amazons?
Given the age of the book – published before the 1939-45 war – it has aged very kindly.
Arthur Ransome’s conversational style doesn’t feel like a clunky old black and white movie that some books of this time have.
The writing is a little ‘old’ in one or two places but these few patches don’t spoil the overall delivery.
Nor do they interfere with the pace.
And I’d forgotten what a major influence this book had been on my childhood; because of this book I saved my summer holiday pay and bought a dingy and in later life learned to sail.
Swallows and Amazons, much better than Harry Potter.