Swallows and Amazons

By Arthur Ransome,

Book cover of Swallows and Amazons

Book description

The ultimate children's classic - long summer days filled with adventure.

John, Susan, Titty and Roger sail their boat, Swallow, to a deserted island for a summer camping trip. Exploring and playing sailors is an adventure in itself but the island holds more excitement in store. Two fierce Amazon pirates,…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Swallows and Amazons as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I first read Swallows and Amazons lying on my belly beside a swimming pool while my little brother splashed through his lessons. I was caught by the inventive adventuring, the sailing and camping and the sheer—parentless!—freedom of the Walker and Blackett children. And most of all, I loved Nancy Blackett, whose real name was Ruth but changed it because everyone knows the Amazon pirates are ruthless. I’ve since read it with my own children, and the magic continues, though these days, I have more sympathy with the mother who, looking for some quiet, thought to pack her kids off to…

From Katie's list on characters who assume new names.

I am not a sailor by any standard, and have never lived by a lake, but this didn’t stop me from relating to this pre-war British classic about a family of four children who spend their summer in high adventure, all fuelled by lively imaginations and a good deal of convincing knowledge about sailing and camping. They navigate by the stars, sleep out, devise contests with fellow sailors, join forces against an imagined foe. I loved how it reminded me of the magic of my childhood. Being one of four children who were largely left to our own devices, we…

What would Swallows and Amazons be without its islands? As in so many other children’s stories, it’s the speck of sovereignty that is Wild Cat Island and Peel Island that holds the key to the book’s appeal. To be honest I always found it difficult to identify with John, Susan, or Titty but the charm of those islands, adult-free and claimable, needs no explanation.

From Alastair's list on the lure and mystery of islands.

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