Swallows and Amazons
by Arthur Ransome
Four young kids spend a family vacation exploring the local area. This children’s classic was originally published in 1930 and has been cherished by generations of kids ever since.
With their mother’s permission, the children sail their small vessel, the Swallow, to a little island near their summer home. They camp out in tents and make food on a small fire. Every day they visit the local farmer for milk, eggs and bread and their mother visits their camp to check on them.
The kids, John, Susan, Titty (really unfortunate name choice) and Roger fish for their dinner and call everyone who lives in the area “natives.” They search for pirates and buried treasure and learn to conquer their own fears. They meet another group of kids, Nancy and Peggy Blackett, who sail their own little ship, the Amazon. It’s such a wonderful adventure story. I wish I’d read it when I was little, but it was still a delight as an adult.
It’s sad to think about how much things have changed in the decades since this book was published. I can’t imagine any parent letting four of their children move to an island for a couple weeks and fend for themselves. The parents would probably end up in jail for neglect. The freedom to have adventures has been curtailed as crime in creases and trust in our neighbors decreases.
BOTTOM LINE: A sweet story about one family’s summer adventures. It made me long for the childhood days of wild abandon when the only thing on your schedule was imaginative outdoor games and afternoons of exploration.