Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Swallows And Amazons

Swallows And Amazons

Arthur Ransome
For ages 10 to 14
Unabridged audiobook (Cassette)
Performed/read by: Alex Jennings
BBC Audiobooks, 2004   ISBN: 0754082903

When mother tells John, Susan, Titty and Roger that they can sail the boat the Swallow, and that they may also camp on the island in the lake, the children feel as if they have been given the best gift in the world. In a rush of excitement and enthusiasm the children pack up for their great adventure, taking tents, food, lamps, journals (to use as logbooks), and so much more that their mother has to row some of the goods over in a separate boat.

The island is to be their very own place for the summer, but when they arrive they discover that someone else has been there before them. They find an old fireplace and someone has made a mark on a tree near the hidden harbour. A little anxiously, the children set up camp around the fireplace, but they soon are so deep in the joys of camping alone on an island that they quiet forget about their worries.

One day, when they come back to the island after an expedition, they discover that their camp on Wildcat Island has been invaded. The intruders inform them that they are the Amazons (thought their real names are Nancy and Peggy), pirates who claim the islandas their own. The two sets of children decide that they might as call a truce so that they can plan a war. It is decided that each side will try to capture the boat of the enemy. Thus the Swallows will try to capture the Amazon and the Amazons will try to take the Swallow.

In addition to this wonderful war, the children also find themselves caught up in conflict with a man whom they call Captain Flint, a retired sailor who lives on a houseboat near Wildcat Island.

Arthur Ransome superbly captures the joys and fears of the six children as they sail and row their way through their summer holidays. Plots and counterplots abound, and the power that the imagination has over the minds and hearts of these children is an inspiration. There are pirates to vanquish, ships to seize, and even a buried treasure to find.

Though this story first came out over sixty years ago, it is still relevant to today’s children and it will give great pleasure to everyone who hears this wonderful audio version.