Swallows and Amazons

I have to admit, I had never heard of this series, but when it was requested by a customer, I decided to check it out. What a charming surprise! Originally written in the 1930's, this series by Arthur Ransome follows the adventures of the four Walker siblings and the Blackett sisters who meet when the Walkers go on a summer holiday on the shore of a large lake. John, Susan, Titty and Roger Walker are enjoying their vacation on a farm but are desperate to take the farmer's little sailboat out on the lake and explore the islands and coves. After all, their father did teach them how to sail before he was called to sea again. When Father sends a telegram giving his permission for them to sail together, they decide to pack provisions and set up camp on the small mysterious island. When they arrive, they are surprised to find that it is the perfect island for a camp, and that someone has used it for that exact purpose before. After settling in, they are challenged to war by the Blackett sisters (who are also excellent sailors), and run into conflict with an old pirate who lives on a houseboat. How will they capture the Blackett's ship, explore the vast lake, and clear their names before it's time to go home? The other books in the series follow the same characters through other nautical adventures as they continue to build their sailing and navigation skills. What's striking to me is how independent, responsible and resourceful the children all are, as they sail, explore, camp, cook, and watch out for each other. Even if you're not a sailor, you're sure to enjoy these vintage adventures. They make great read alouds, too! All volumes are paperback. - Jess




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