Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

This book was an interesting discovery.  It was written in 1930 and is the first in a long series of books featuring a group of four siblings of the last name Walker.  In this book, the four children are staying at a lake with their mother and baby sister while their father is away at sea.  The children get permission to use a small sailing boat and camp out on a small island in the lake.  When they arrive at the island, they discover that someone had camped there before.  They soon meet the previous inhabitants, the Blackett girls, and they all become fast friends and have wonderful adventures together.

As with most books I review, I experienced this one as a recorded book.  The recording was made in 2008, so at first I didn't realize this was an old classic.  It didn't take long listening to figure out that this book could not have been written and published in the last decade.  The children do and are allowed to do things that would never be considered appropriate today.  I guess parents are much more protective now then they were 70 years ago.  For example, when they smallest boy, who we presume is about 6, finally learns to swim on his own, his mother gives him his first pocket knife as a reward. Can you imagine a book written today where a mother gives a 6 year old a pocket knife?

Another old fashion element of the story is how proper the children are, and completely without fault.  They are never tempted to be bad, and are always respectful and responsible.  Their adventures are pretty tame as well.  They get in a storm,  they get lost on the lake at night, but they are never really in danger.

Anyway, it was delightful read, with an innocence reminiscent of the Box Car Children or Little Women.  It would be a great book for a Low/High reader.  (351 p.)

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