Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Twenty-Five - Swallows And Amazons

Arthur Ransome
Both images from

What a delightful book! Tales of pirates and explorers and important discoveries and treasure and even a parrot who says Pieces of Eight! Almost everything but the parrot is a product of the imagination of children. The Swallows (so named for their sailboat) have a father who is a real-life sailor and a mother who grew up sailing and having adventures of her own. They encourage the children to use their imagination and let them run free (within limits).

I’m sure I would have enjoyed the book even more if I knew anything at all about sailing. I can imagine the romance of the sailboat tripping along the sea with no motor to disturb the sounds of nature… and I would like to do this if someone else is doing the sailing. I mean, I don’t want to like, haul up the lanyards myself. I don’t know what tacking is but they seem to do lots of it. I don’t believe I would make much of a sailor. I’d be too interested in looking around and seeing the sights.

The children’s adventures resonated with me because I remember having adventures when I was young. We had a vacation trailer when I was growing up and wherever we went we met other children staying in the same RV park. We roamed the entire area, walking for miles. We went back inside only for meals, even when we were at home. Entire summers were spent outside.

Susan is the Swallow’s mate, otherwise known as chief cook and bottle-washer. Remember when you thought rinsing a plate in water got it clean? Tap water, lake water, creek water, whatever. It was clean. I have to admit I sorta miss those days.

One adult patronized the kids. When the able seaman said they were going to visit the lake again - the next summer and every summer for their entire lives – this woman said, “We all think that way when we’re young.” I’m fairly certain the able seaman, if she’d thought about it, would have thought, but I mean it. In this case it’s different. I’m different. You may have been a child once but when I grow to be an adult I’ll be different. I won’t conform. I won’t let others tell me what to think or how to behave. I’ll still be me.

Yet when the able seaman grew up I doubt that she visited that lake every summer for the rest of her life. The book was published in 1930, so many summers have passed since then. Is it possible to grow up and keep that magic? Keep the imagination? Continue making adventures?

Wild Cat Island

1 comment:

  1. So glad you enjoyed this book. I loved how the children stayed in character and used their imagination to increase the adventure. I'm also not much of a sailor...

    I really wish I'd have read this book as a child.

    Also, I'm so excited for you to read I Capture the Castle. It's easily one of my favorites!