The format for these book reviews has been shamelessly borrowed from one of my favorite sites, Forever Young Adult. I’ve changed a few categories, but owe the idea and execution to them. Hopefully they won’t mind (and since this is an un-searchable blog, they probably won’t know–but credit where credit is due.)
Book Report for Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
BFF Charm: Yay! (x infinity + 1)
These books are my favorite children’s series. Seriously. And you all know how much I love Harry Potter. There isn’t a one of the Swallows or the Amazons I wouldn’t give my “best friends forever” charm to (although I can’t imagine any of them would be very impressed if a strange American girl tried to give them ugly jewelry. But I digress.)
Adventure Rating: 7
Pirates! Thieves! Camping and sailing without grownups (or life jackets)! The adventure scale will increase throughout the series, especially once Roger is given his own pocket knife.
The Plot Thickens: This is the first in a twelve book series in which the four Walker siblings spend holidays sailing and camping on a lake in the Lake District in England (lakes in the Lake District: happy thought indeed!). In this first installment they meet the Blackett sisters and there is promptly a series of naval battles (the Walkers are explorers sailing in the Swallow, while the two Blacketts are Amazon pirates in their trusty ship the Amazon) to determine who leads the Armada, who gets the prime camping spot on Wildcat Island, and who has to walk the plank.
Camping/Sailing/Naval Warfare: Ummm, I don’t think this bonus factor needs any explaining. If just those 4 words don’t make your heart beat faster in anticipation, you are dead inside.
Awesome Uncle: The Amazons have an Uncle Jim (aka Captain Flint) who is a retired pirate, and thus is very useful for things like firing canons off his houseboat deck, walking the plank, and having plunder stolen by other pirates.
Series: What could be better than one awesome book about the Blacketts and Walkers?!? TWELVE! And the best part? They are already published so there is no agonizing wait while the author toys with your affections and comes up with a lame ending (Suzanne Collins, I’m looking at you right now.).
Relationship Status: Til Death Do Us Part
I love Swallows and Amazons with a love pure and true. We are the best of friends, and the day we got married was one of the happiest of my life. I will always be there for this book: on good days when WASPs who like to read about sailing buy it, and on bad days when English lit people point out that it is definitely pre-post-colonial in its mention of “Natives”. (My reaction to that last is: “DUH. It was written in the 1930s by a Brit–what did you expect!?”)