Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Each summer I try to read a classic children's book. This year it was Swallows and Amazons. I'm so glad I did. 

Four siblings: John, Susan, Titty and Roger, (The Swallows) get permission from their parents to sail to a deserted island on a lake and camp out for the remainder of their summer vacation.

While this is not a magical adventure like Half Magic by Edward Eager, that I read last year, it has its own kind of everyday magic, the powerful magic of imagination, play, and freedom.

The children imagine themselves as explorers and pirates as they spend their time fishing, visiting "the natives" for supplies, and exploring the world around them. Eventually they meet up with two sisters sailing their own ship (The Amazons) and agree to a friendly challenge. In case you want to read this book I won't spoil it for you except to say that after a bit of a stressful adventure, the two groups become fast friends.

This book resonated powerfully with me. When I was a child, my siblings and I headed out after breakfast and spent our summers in the hills just above our house, or down by the nearby river, creating worlds that paralleled the ones we lived in with our parents. The only rule was that we had to return in time for supper. This book returned me to those halcyon days.

I can't help but wonder if students at our urban school get the chance to experience this kind of joyful freedom here in the city. 

I'm giving this book only 4/5 stars because while I thought it was absolutely charming, I am not sure that many students in my school would appreciate this gem. It is very slow paced and full of descriptive details. In spite of this, I think it would make a fabulous read aloud. 

1 comment:

  1. Loved your review and wish ALL kids could have the Walkers' experiences! We wanted to share our own free ideas and resources for helping kids get the most from this book in 3-D ways - enjoy! http://www.litwitsworkshops.com/free-resources/swallows-and-amazons-arthur-ransome/