Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Review: "Swallows and Amazons"

Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons (first published 1930; my edition David R. Godine, 1985) is a wonderful little children's story set in the English Lake Country during the early decades of the 20th century. The four Walker children set off on a grand journey of sailing and exploration, filled with pirates, sharks, talking parrots, plank-walking, buried treasure, and all sorts of fascinating things like that. It's a good adventure story, and for anyone who spent their childhood camping, playing outside, building forts, and leading "expeditions" (even if it wasn't in the English Lakes), I suspect it will ring true.

Ransome's prose reads very nicely, and his own drawings which accompany the text are the perfect illustrations. I enjoyed this very much, and may keep my eyes peeled for the others in the series.


jgodsey said...

it's shocking to read... or see if you watch the films they made with boats without parental supervision or 3 kids of safety devices...amazing that children were expected NOT to drown themselves. these days kids aren't allowed to do ANYTHING without 10 kinds of supervision.

Mercurius Politicus said...

Are these books at all well-known in the US? Would be interesting to know whether they have an audience outside the UK. As a Brit I grew up with these - I am 30 now and wonder if I was amongst the last generation of English kids to read them. The fact that a musical version is being staged in Bristol at the moment gives me hope they still appeal and haven't date.

Some other favorites I would recommend: Pigeon Post, Great Northern, and Missee Lee. (You can read them in sequence if you want, but they are accessible even if you don't).