Anytime is a good time for searching out good children’s books. Right? In fact, now that I think about it, I believe it might be one of my hobbies!
A couple of years ago I needed a gift for a 10 year old girl and I needed something classic, adventurous, literary, and unusual. I wanted something that represented girls her age as independent and daring. And I wanted it to be realistic. So, let the book searches begin!
Swallows and Amazons
Many books came to mind. Heidi, The Secret Garden, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, even The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (maybe not totally realistic), or the Little House on the Prairie series. All of them too familiar. I wanted something even I had never heard of. And then I found it. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. Have you heard of this book? I hadn’t. So I bought it. I read it. I LOVE it!
Published in 1930, yep, 1930, some of the adventures these four siblings, John, Susan Titty, and Roger, have during their summer at the lake really do seem amazing. These are truly free-range kids! Dad is awaiting deployment to Hong Kong at the beginning of WWI so, apart from a single phone call from Mom to Dad about one of the adventures, Mom is fully in charge of everything. In fact, she facilitates much of the adventuring with her sewing of tents, rounding up of outdoor sleeping gear, and food packing.
At first things are pretty summer-at-the-lake like. Pleasant descriptions of oh so peaceful times. Sunshine and breezes. Sigh! But then….the pirates are spotted!! (You knew this was coming, didn’t you?) And things take off from there. There is a mysterious explosion, night time sailing excursions, a lightening storm, to say the least. (No spoiler am I!) Lots of things go on without Mom’s knowledge.
And, all the while the characters remain believable and the thrilling events remain plausible. The kids have it under control, well, most of the time! And, when they don’t, they figure it out together. These youngsters are creative, adventurous, and have each other’s backs. They collaborate and solve their problems. And….they solve the mysteries!
As for the meaning of the title? You’ll have to read it yourself to find out!
Just writing about this makes me want grab my copy and start back at the beginning again! Yes, I gave the first copy away as the gift and immediately bought one for myself. I’m waiting for my granddaughter to get old enough for us to read it together!
Arthur Ransome wrote many books, this being the first of them all. So far, this is the only one I’ve read, though. Lots of future gifts by Mr. Ransome! Here is a link where you can read more about his books. And, here’s a link where you can buy one!
And, yes, there is a 1974 movie of Swallows and Amazons out there. But, please! Read the book first. You will never regret it!
Let us all know how you and your children liked Swallows and Amazons!
You might also like to read this for yourself –
- Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy