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I am an eleven-year-old girl who first found Swallows and Amazons at a library booksale - even before they were republished! Don't let the title fool you - Swallows and Amazons are two groups of siblings. One group has a boat called Swallow.The other group has a boat called Amazon. The Swallows and Amazons start out enemies, but become friends rapidly. Their adventures are similar to what I have often dreamed of - getting a boat and having adventures on and around an island!But their adventures are not limited to the island, they evenvisit "the natives" back home. What's best about their adventures is that all of them are possible! They don't do impossible things like ride on drangons or become invisible. Their adventures really could happen! I loved this book from the start, and have read it again and again. I would also reccomend the other books in this series. They are all super, and will become treasures to pass on to later generations. Thank you, Mr. Ransome, for writing such a wonderful book!
I didn't discover Ransome's series until I was in my 20s, but I picked the first one up out of curiosity and was hooked. As a child, I was a great explorer, going all over the local landscape, giving names to the different topographical features. I loved to camp and ramble. I loved boating, although I never sailed, and a picnic on an island in the river nearby (and a chance to explore said island on my own while everyone else was fishing) was a joy I'll never forget. This book, and the others in the series, recapture those happy days for me. This one is very innocent, with no real violence or menace, but full of joyful adventure. The children are great role models; they're feisty and independent, yet still respectful of their elders. They're imaginative but know when to set aside their fantasies and deal with realities. The book also conveys the joy of adventure and the great outdoors, and also shows that everyone has something important to contribute. Sure, one member of the group might be more interested in cooking and provisions, but that's necessary. The adults take a back seat in these books, generally, but they're there. This one, especially, can be seen as a test by the parents to see how responsible their children are, and it's implicit that the kids are doing their best to prove themselves to their parents. The parents don't neglect them, they're there if they're needed, and check up on them regularly, but they also give them space to ramble and have an adventure. Today it may seem as if these parents are letting their kids run wild; but I think families today could use books like this. When you have kids who are shuttled back and forth to band practice and swim team and heaven knows what else, they need the time to just relax and let things happen.Read more ›
Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" is the first in a classic series of children's stories that will appeal to readers of all ages. The book is set in the English Lake District in the period between the two World Wars, (where the author was living at the time). It tells of a time when a healthy imagination (and the freedom to take advantage of it) was enough to keep most youngsters both amused and out of mischief. The world was a safer and simpler place back then and this book does much to make us realise just how much has been irretrievably lost since. Not that this was ever Ransome's intention, of course. He was simply drawing upon his own boyhood experiences (from a yet earlier time) as well as contemporary ones of the children of a family friend. He used these to weave an enchanting tale that would remind those same children (by then returned `home' to the deserts of the Middle East) of a happy summer spent sailing in England. The story's strong basis in reality (albeit several separate realities, as it were), tempered with Ransome's love of sailing (and his knowledge of Lake District life), imbue the book with a strong sense of authority. Both the text and the author's own pen-and-ink illustrations also have an endearing charm that comes across even now, some 70 years after the book was first published. One of the great things about this book (and indeed, the whole series of books that was to follow) is that Ransome avoids most of the stereotypical treatments of children's roles that his contemporaries (as well as later authors) continually espoused. He always manages to treat (nearly!) all of his characters as equal partners in their activities, whatever their age, gender or background.Read more ›
I discovered SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS as a child of twelve and was thoroughly delighted. I cannot imagine why this classic series has not achieved the same status in the United States. This first volume in the series follows the children of the Swallow family as they summer in the English lake country. The story charts their adventures as they sail, camp, discover nature around them interact with each other and two girls from a houseboat (the Amazons). It is a lovely wistful book that evokes the grandeur of childhood games in nature. In the background of the story is a faint hint of the World War (the Swallows' father is in the Navy) but the sense that the children are being sheltered from adult concerns but that only heightens the loveliness of their childhood lives.
Budding anglophile children who love the English details of the Harry Potter books or the Narnia Chronicles should love the depiction of these children. (Although there is no magic in Ransome's series of books other than the ordinary magic of childhood.) It would also be an excellent choice for children who love nature or are learning to sail. I imagine it would be equally well-loved by both boys and girls. The illustrations are charming and in some of the books the diagrams of boats are quite detailed.
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