Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

This book was recommended to me by Lou in the comments section of my ranty blog post about The Hunger Games, in which I lamented the violent stories so popular among young people these days and wondered what had happened to sweet and non-murderous characters like Anne (of Green Gables fame). Swallows and Amazons was first published in 1930, so it’s from the same era as Anne, and it’s exactly the thing to read to restore your faith in a book’s ability to entertain with nothing more than simple writing, imaginative kids and a sailboat. The book follows the adventures of 6 kids who spend their summer holiday pretending to be pirates, and camping and falling asleep exhausted every night from days full of exploring and adventure. There are no battles with wizards or fights for their lives, but there is one pirate game they play in the story that kept me up one night just to find out who’d win.

I’d like to say this book is a cross between Robinson Crusoe and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, but I really shouldn’t since I’ve read neither of those. It’s the kind of book I imagine reading with Moses as soon as he’s old enough, although before you start scanning op shop shelves for it, I should warn you: this book will make you want to go camping, no matter how anti-camping you are before reading. Also, one of the characters is named Titty, which, if you’re anything like me, may distract you from the story and make you snicker for at least the first 20 pages.


  1. Love that you've posted about this! Now you just have to read the rest of the series (that should keep you going for at least the first half of 2013!). The second book (Swallowdale) is my favourite. :)

    1. I read Swallowdale immediately after this one and I did enjoy it, but I think I should have taken a break between them - I was in the wrong mood by the end of the second book and so wasn't as captivated.

      I'll have to re-read it next time I'm craving a sweet story, and then space out the rest of the series throughout the year - this system may keep the books going well into 2014!

  2. Replies
    1. I KNOW! I just kept imagining har hanging out with two particular characters from the Magic Faraway Tree and giggling. I shouldn't be allowed to see movies for mature audiences, I obviously don't qualify.

    2. A piece of trivia (I just read it on Wikipedia): in the more recent versions of the Magic Faraway Tree, "Fanny and Dick, whose names now carry unfortunate connotations, have been renamed Frannie and Rick."

      I guess Titty will be renamed Kitty if they ever update Arthur Ransome's books.

    3. Ah that sort of political correctness makes me crazy - like how they were trying to rewrite Huckleberry Finn without too many references to slavery (or the 'n' word). These are books of their time and need to be viewed in context. What next - rewriting Shakespeare? It's a mad, mad world.