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Swallows and Amazons (stage version) (NHB Modern Plays) Kindle Edition
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|Kindle, December 4, 2014||
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“There is plenty of excitement, a little danger, a quality of thinking, planning and fun which is delightful and stimulating.” –TLS --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
"There is plenty of excitement, a little danger, a quality of thinking, planning and fun which is delightful and stimulating." -"TLS" --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00R7TESJ6
- Publisher : Nick Hern Books (December 4, 2014)
- Publication date : December 4, 2014
- Language : English
- File size : 566 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 96 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #415,906 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book's greatest strength and weakness is that it lacked serious conflict and did not suck me in. I was able to put the book down...and I found that pleasant for a change, since I normally gulp in one sitting. I read some, put it down for a few days, went back and read some more. I wish that today's literature had not built up a desire in me and in so many others to have serious, high conflict. I'm glad the kids were never in grave danger or trying to save the world. They had adventures, but I was never terrified for their lives and just enjoyed their good-natured battles and explorations.
Mom: I'll write to Dad.
Letter back: As long as they're not duffers.
Thus begins Swallows and Amazons. We get to join in their great expedition and adventures - exploring, battles, pirates, natives, treasure, and wonderful allies.
Where oh where are wonderful days like that? Maybe I shouldn't be surprised at how sad I was for the adventure to be over.
“Take back your Black Spot, then,” said Captain Flint.
“You keep it,” said Nancy, “to remind you never to turn native again.”
Some reviews complain about certain aspects of the book that might be outdated... however, I think the fact that it was written almost a century ago adds to its charm. Yes, the children talk about natives , but they were well-off, white British children in the early 1900's... so what do people expect? Besides, while it was written in the 1930's, the cast of characters includes some strong and fiercely independent women and girls. I loved reading a book with a very smart, skilled mother who was willing to allow her children to take risks and learn difficult things. And the two girls who sailed the boat known as the Amazon? They were a joy to read about when they finally made their way into the story.
I wish I knew about this book series when I was a girl. I probably would have begged my parents to let me learn how to sail and saved up my money to take lessons.
Although children today are generally not permitted to do this (probably be arrested for child endangerment), children can still read this book and dream about how it was or it could be.
Briefly the story is about two groups of children, a group of four siblings - the Swallows, and the other, two sisters - the Amazons, who are enamored with sailing and of being outdoors and live a rich fantasy revolving around these two desires.
The two groups are at first in conflict over who controls the island, but after a challenge settles the issue join forces to thwart skullduggery that casts unfair blame on the Swallows.
The book might be a bit slow in the beginning for younger readers, but once the two groups meet, it takes off and is exciting in a very innocent way. These are children being children, not children trying to young adults, making it very different from much contemporary fiction aimed at tweens/young teenagers.
Top reviews from other countries
The story tells of the crew of the Swallow, 4 children visiting the Lake District on a summer holiday. In front of them lies a lake to explore and enjoy. The children's father is overseas on a naval trip so the family have boating in their blood. The 4 draw on their knowledge of exciting places far away to name the locations, adding more glamour to their spots on the lake. These places are generally pretty well-known with perhaps the exception being the Peak of Darien which is unlikely to be known by a modern young reader or listener.
Darien is far from the only challenging description in the book. There are so many nautical terms which are all used correctly but which just are not part of common parlance any more. Ransome writes for a readership perhaps more suited to tales of adventure on the high seas where young people might have aspired to glorious sailing expeditions. Nowadays that is a pretty niche area and so nearly 90 years after original publication, the gap between the narrator and the reader has grown tremendously.
Indeed there is a sense that the world of Swallows and Amazons has disappeared somewhat in the intervening period. The prospect of young children being allowed to camp out by themselves on a small island in the middle of a lake harks to a golden era of childhood that few now living will have been part of. Perhaps in a way this is the glory of the tale in that it describes what childhood should be like more than what it actually represents.
The adventures the children have are nicely couched. They are not too scary for a young audience but carry some excitement. The side expedition into a gypsy camp is fascinating and the battle with Captain Flint is wonderful to read as is the exciting way Titty takes on the Amazon.
The Amazons are a surprisingly modern rendition of girls. The two girls who crew the Amazon are just as brave and adventurous as any of the boys in the story, perhaps even more so. The Amazons are a fun foil for the Swallows in that they have similar aspirations and worldviews but have the added advantage of knowing the area much better.
The relationship between the children is heavily hierarchical in that the younger ones follow the orders of the older ones. The gender roles are interesting though because the most assertive characters are probably the Swallows and Titty rather than the boys. Indeed the only characters who are treated as less capable are the baby who does not join the adventure and the youngest boy Roger.
The distinction the characters make between "natives" and the shipmates is excellent even if it has colonial overtones. In a childhood adventure, those who are not part of the group are most definitely the other and that extends to members of the crew's family and friends.
While it is definitely a classic and a great yarn filled with childhood adventure, the writing of Swallows and Amazons is pretty tough going. The actions are detailed intricately. This slows the pace down greatly and means not much happens for long periods of time. Ransome labours heavily through the work with far too many words explaining what are often pretty throwaway things. There are benefits to this approach in teaching some of the theory behind the way things work but that is not the same as being exciting and is not really how children learn best most of the time.
Equally the book is not especially attractive. The cover of the 2012 edition is pretty ugly. The interior sketches are at best skeletal and worst terrible.
Overall, Swallows and Amazons is a dense book that over-describes its detail but at heart holds within it the glory of what childhood is supposed to be. There is a good reason this is considered a classic and it is the kind of gentle adventure a young reader or audience can enjoy without trouble. At over 500 pages of pretty dense text though it is a heavy read and at times not the easiest to get through.
Of course, life is very different now from when Arthur Ransome wrote this classic story, and Mrs Walker would find herself castigated, and probably even prosecuted, for neglect if she were to allow her four children, aged presumably between seven and eleven, to going camping and sailing, wholly unaccompanied; the children themselves would probably be taken into care. The only vague concession to health and safety is Mrs Walker’s ruling that Roger is not allowed to carry or use matches. The book was first published in 1930, and was probably already eulogising a Corinthian past largely of Ransome’s own imagining.
Ransome’s own imagining is pretty powerful though. He succeeds in creating six child characters, all of whom have clearly contrasting personalities, and he captures their perspective of the world with great clarity. He also pulls off the harder trick of writing adults who meld into the children’s world seamlessly. At the risk of sinking into technicality, he is also a master of metafiction. The children themselves all have marvellous imaginations, recasting the Cumbrian lake into a new world waiting to be explored, reassigning all the local features with names drawn from maritime history. Perhaps he overendows the children in this way – given their ages, it seems amazing that they have heard of half the places or books that they talk about so readily. This, however, could not matter less, and it merely adds to the reader’s sense of complete immersion in the fantasy world that Ransome has created.
Most importantly, though, it is simply a rattling good story that resonates with the joy of unfettered imagination