Swallows & Amazons
(1st book in series)
|This is the first book in the wonderful Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome.
This is the best series of books about life around the water for young people that has so
far been written. The children in these stories are children as we would like to have been
and their adult relatives, who assist and accompany them in their adventures, are the
parental figures that we wish we were. I'm not saying that the characters are presented as
being without flaws. They have them. However they are the flaws of good people.
Generally when people get in trouble in these books it is due to poor seamanship. When they get out it is through good seamanship.
Both the children and adults in these books are portrayed as have active inquiring minds and imaginations and even many adult readers of these books find themselves adopting some of the imaginative ways of looking at the people they meet and the places they go on their own boats that the children in these books use to gain an interesting perspective on their world.
While this review is not a biography of Mr. Ransome, he was separated from his own child through what I would call a family tragedy and instead of allowing it to destroy him became a friend to all children including the very real children whom he entertained by making them the patterns for the children in this story. While we musn't confuse these children of Mr. Ransome's imagination too much with the real children of the same names, most of us who grew up with these books and went on to read them to our children, find it quite wonderful that there were real children for whom these books were originally written.
Mr. Ransome himself appears in the books as James Turner, known to the children as "Captain Flint". In these pages he was able to be the father figure he would have liked to have been.
For those who will surely want to ask. Yes, the lake is real. Most of the boats and scenes are real. There really was a "Swallow" and so far as I know "Amazon" is still in the same family and used by another generation of children.
This first book starts with the simple decision of a mother and father to allow their four children to go camping on an island in a lake in the north of England. These young people have the glorious feeling of freedom and adventure of being allowed to live on their own on a small island in a big lake with their own little sailing vessel, "Swallow" to explore in. Their meeting with the crew of the "Amazon" and later with Captain Flint is woven beautifully into a plot with sufficient excitement and suspense to make very satisfying reading. All this is colored with the wonder of learning sailing, exploring, and just plain having a wonderful time with life. This entire series is highly recommended. (tm) $14.95