Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review Wednesday by Belle

Swallows and Amazons
by Arthur Ransome

Reviewed by Belle

This book was recommended to me months ago, after a ranty blog post 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 seeing as I’ve read neither of those. It’s the kind of book I imagine reading with my son as soon as he’s old enough for his first novel , although before you start scanning op shop shelves for it and making reading dates with your children I should warn you: This book will make them and you want to go camping, no matter how anti-camping they/you are before reading. Also, one of the characters is named Titty, which, if you’re anything like me, you may have to practice saying without giggling before starting to read the book out loud.

Thanks Belle! Sounds awesome. Check out Belle's Elbows..

7 comments:

Ben McLaughlin said...

This sounds great, and sounds like the kind of thing that would have very much appealled to me as a kid. Those kind of old-timey kids adventure stories give me a very warm, snug feeling of nostalgia.

I'm surprised I haven't heard of this author, I'll have to track the book down. Thanks for recommending.

Belle said...

I read the second in the (very long) series, but didn't enjoy it as much - I think you need to take a bit of a break between each book so that you don't get too adventured-out.

Karen said...

I loved this book as a kid. My husband had fond memories of it too. But like you, Belle, I found some of the others in the series hard going.
One of my boys received it as a birthday gift, not sure whether it was this year or last year. I've seen both of them reading it quite often.
Now I'm thinking I might read it again while we're away at the beach during the school holidays....

Jessica said...

Thanks for reviewing! I love this series. I love them all. I actually found the first book the hardest as a child, because of all the sailing jargon, and being a bit confused about where the game ended and reality started. One thing I love about it is how serious the kids are, they take their adventures deadly earnest, they use carrier pigeons and learn morse code and semaphore, and know how to camp properly and stuff. And the books have pictures which are simple but helpful. Fantastic books and so underrated.

Crazyjedidiah said...

I've not read this book but it sounds interesting. I read about it because I have been doing a subject about Children's literature this semester.

Dawn Merz said...

Great choice for a book review, Belle!! I discovered this series in my late teens and love it so much! I can't wait to read them aloud to my kids with Peter, who also loves them! I love how they talk of "the natives".

Belle said...

My comment from last night doesn't seem to have gone through...

Jessica - I'd forgotten about the sailing jargon, but you're right, it can be hard! I skimmed over most of it, which would be difficult if you were reading it aloud...

Dawn - I love talk of "the natives" as well, especially that their mum plays along with it! If I had a list of 'top mothering role models' she'd be on it.