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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No more make-believe for the Swallows and Amazons, May 9, 2001
By 
"It was enough to make anybody happy, just to be afloat and sailing, to see the green shores racing past, to see the bubbling wake slipping away astern, to see all the sails drawing, to hear now and then a gentle, low thrumming in the shrouds, to see the sunlight sparkle in the spray thrown out to leeward by the bows of the little schooner." - Arthur Ransome
Though listed as the third volume in Arthur Ransome's *Swallows and Amazons* series, *Peter Duck* is chronologically the second adventure of this group of four plus two children, taking place in the Winter of 1930/31, a few months after the events narrated in *Swallows and Amazons*.
As its subtitle indicates - "A Treasure Hunt in the Caribbees" - *Peter Duck* is a book of much greater geographical scope than the first volume: instead of merely pretending to be explorers and pirates, the six children, accompanied by the Amazons' uncle, Captain Flint, and a benevolent sea dog, Peter Duck, cross the Atlantic in search of a real treasure really buried by real pirates.
Every single event in the first book seems to be reproduced here, but on a much greater scale: the ships are now full-sized, the lake is drowned in an ocean, the island can no longer be swimmed around, the petty thieves have turned into murdering thugs, and England's summer rains are drenched by a tropical storm.
Even though the plot is more contrived and far-fatched, with the elements playing a rather providential - and therefore improbable - role, the tone is generally more realistic, as the children are no longer shielded from the more dangerous forces at work in the world. They even befriend a young, abused pauper, Bill, whom Ransome, in a Dickensian vein, portrays more lovingly than any of the recurring characters. And quite significantly, instead of referring to such novels as *Robinson Crusoe* or *Treasure Island*, the children (and especially the one I identify with the most, Titty) are now enthralled by Hakluyt's and Columbus's accounts of their voyages.
*Peter Duck* may lack the simplicity and freshness of the first volume, as well as the feeling that nothing serious could happen to the children, but it is a wonderful adventure story which I wish I had read (or been read) as a child. And for those who don't know Jack about sailing, it is also very didactic, containing several explanatory illustrations and footnotes by Captain Nancy herself.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swashbuckling children's adventure!, December 10, 2000
This volume in Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" series finds the Swallows and Amazons in rare old adventuring form, sailing off to the distant Caribbean (together with grown-ups Captain Flint and the original Old Salt Tar himself, Peter Duck) in search of buried pirate treasure! Along the way, they have to contend with numerous hazards, from sailing in thick fog in the English Channel, to enduring earthquake and tempest, as well as fending off a shipload of villainous pirates intent on getting their hands on the same treasure. If this all sounds rather more daring and far-fetched than can be found in other "Swallows and Amazons" stories, there is good reason for this - although the explanation is not revealed until the next book, "Swallowdale". (This latter was originally published as the second volume of the series but, for obvious reasons, is best left until after you've read "Peter Duck"!)
Despite its somewhat fanciful content, Ransome keeps the tale eminently believable and builds the excitement gradually, drawing the reader inexorably into the events that unfold. You really do just have to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next! By the latter stages, it becomes impossible to put down.
Sprinkled with numerous delightful pen and ink illustrations (charmingly credited to the Swallows and Amazons themselves!) this book is a lovely production. In short, it is nothing short of a little masterpiece that should be on everyone's reading list.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best stories in the series, August 25, 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (Arlington, VA United States) - See all my reviews
I remember reading Peter Duck as a child and being a little disappointed. As a child the adventures of the Swallows & Amazons was best when they were as far away from adults as possible. Battling Uncle Jim / Captain Flint for his houseboat was one thing - going on a sea voyage with him in charge was quite another.
Re-reading the series as an adult, however, I see this in a whole new perspective. Simply put the actual story, and the story-telling, racks amongst the highest in the series. The scope of the book, running from the mouth of the broads which we come to love later in the series, right down to Crab Island in the Caribbean is wonderful. The intrigue and adventure is at a higher level to match too.
Arthur Ransome is one of the story tellers who believes in dealing with "bad people" head on - and in this tale, Black Jake and his crew are really some of the most despicable characters in children's literature. We always hope they will meet a sticky end. However, the writing is a little out of date now in terms of some derogatory words used for black people and Spaniards. I believe such language can be used as an important educational tool to explain why we no longer use these words (it should be noted that it is the rough characters that use these terms).
The book never comments on this as being "fictional". Of course they are all fictional tales, but this is fiction within fiction because we find out in other books that this was a tale made up by everyone. However, it is still written very realisitically and anyone with a love for sailing will find the chapters about the setup of the boat or the sailing down the North Sea and the English Channel wonderful.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Unbelievable Adventure, January 9, 2001
By A Customer
The Swallows and Amazon series is remarkable for its realism; there's nothing stopping my kids or yours from adventures of similar scope and daring.
Peter Duck, however, differs. While it is a grand adventure, the kids travel too far into a dangerous world. Too-daring adventures, cutthroat pirates, attempted murder of a child, violent death, earthquakes and waterspouts; this book explores the shores of violent fantasy.
Unfortunately, there is no delineation between the "reality" of the other books, and the fantasy of Peter Duck. You might find it tame compared with television, but consider skipping Peter Duck in a first reading of the series.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An edge-of-your-seat thriller that can be enjoyed by the young and old alike!!!, July 30, 2005
This is supposed to be "just a children's book", but I was about 30 when I first read this book, and I tell you... it was ABSOLUTELY AWESOME and WILDLY EXCITING to me! The author is really good at writing this series about the exciting outdoor adventures of the Walker and Blackett children, and this is one of his most intensely thrilling tales. His vivid descriptions of the various scenes are extremely good, and the unexpected and clever plot twists are very satisfying and enjoyable. Highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swashbuckling children's adventure, July 23, 2001
This review is from: Peter Duck (Hardcover)
This volume in Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" series finds the Swallows and Amazons in rare old adventuring form, sailing off to the distant Caribbean (together with grown-ups Captain Flint and the original Old Salt Tar himself, Peter Duck) in search of buried pirate treasure! Along the way, they have to contend with numerous hazards, from sailing in thick fog in the English Channel, to enduring earthquake and tempest, as well as fending off a shipload of villainous pirates intent on getting their hands on the same treasure. If this all sounds rather more daring and far-fetched than can be found in other "Swallows and Amazons" stories, there is good reason for this - although the explanation is not revealed until the next book, "Swallowdale". (This latter was originally published as the second volume of the series but, for obvious reasons, is best left until after you've read "Peter Duck"!)
Despite its somewhat fanciful content, Ransome keeps the tale eminently believable and builds the excitement gradually, drawing the reader inexorably into the events that unfold. You really do just have to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next! By the latter stages, it becomes impossible to put down.
Sprinkled with numerous delightful pen and ink illustrations (charmingly credited to the Swallows and Amazons themselves!) this book is a lovely production. In short, it is nothing short of a little masterpiece that should be on everyone's reading list.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great adventure yarn, September 10, 2002
By 
Robin Marwick (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Swallowdale refers to a story the children and Captain Flint wrote over the winter... this is it, which accounts for the more fantastical elements some of the other reviewers mentioned! (Missee Lee -- pirates in the South China Sea -- is a story in a similar vein.) Great fun although I do slightly prefer the more "realistic" books in the series. But the whole series is great -- I first read Swallows and Amazons at the age of 9 and return to it often.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun, July 13, 2004
This book is actually a fantasy within the context of the series. In the previous book, SWALLOWDALE, we encounter Peter Duck as a fictional character and how he was the star of a story made up by the children and Captain Flint during a winter stay in a boat.
That aside, this is good adventure. The children assemble for a summer holiday sailing in the English Channel, and are joined by a crusty old seaman who's being pursued by some criminals, who know that he knows where a treasure is buried in the Caribbean. After some misadventures, the crew sets off across the Atlantic, along the way picking up a small boy who was part of the criminal's crew.
In the Caribbean, they encounter some eerie crabs and some harrowing scenes that are the aftermath of a volcanic explosion at some distance. The treasure is found and the villains are dispatched in a rather overly convenient deus ex machina ending that I rather disliked; it's the only reason I chopped a star off this otherwise grand entertainment.
This book has the usual S&A series messages about the joys of adventure and of being outdoors, and the importance of courage and self-reliance as well as teamwork. Next in the series: WINTER HOLIDAY.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great treasure-hunt stories, June 13, 1999
By A Customer
As The Hobbit distills so much of Norse and Teutonic fairy-tales into a perfect whole, this distills the pirate-treasure hunt story. Told with all the author's expert seamanship and descriptive power, it is impossible to imagine a better tale in the genre. A great introduction to Ransome, a wonderful author!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Tale of Adventure for All Ages, August 6, 2014
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This is a great story for all ages, quite gripping and filled with sailing lore and the kind of detail about seafaring and sailing ships from tiny to huge, in the end of the "Age of Sail" that make all Ransome's books both educational and enjoyable.

The namesake character is a particularly fine rendering of a lifelong seaman, more at home at sea than ashore. This book could entertain a parent reading to a child as well as an adult or a child with a taste for nautical adventure, including skullduggery, buried treasure, piracy, but without the kitschy and over the top treatment common to most modern treatments of the subject.

It helps to have read Swallows and Amazons by the same author but is by no means necessary to enjoy it by itself.
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Peter Duck
Peter Duck by Arthur Ransome (Paperback - 2001)
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