Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Swallows and Amazons is another book that, for me, is crammed full of memories. Every turn of the page reminds me of someone I know or an event I have done. Whilst I read Swallows and Amazons I was surrounded by friends reading it at the same time as me, consequently, as well as being an amazing book, Swallows and Amazons holds a lot of sentimental value for me.  I think this is partly because I first read Swallows and Amazons as part of a literature study with some friends.

Swallows and Amazons is one of the best loved books on our shelves at home. As a sign of how much our family love Arthur Ransom's book the copy we own is held together with tape, and some of the pages are missing. To be fair our copy is from the charity shop but it still has been read a fair few times by my siblings and I . The twelve Swallows and Amazons books have been published world-wide, in hard-back and paper-back format, and in multiple languages. They have never been out of print and considered classics of children's literature.

From the very first time I read Swallows and Amazons I loved everything about it. I loved the adventures they had because they were realistic, they were games they had invented for themselves rather than huge mysteries that involved police. They didn't discover vast hordes of treasure, instead they did normal childhood things. Things like, hanging out with friends and inventing their own games.

As part of the literature study we not only looked at Arthur Ransom's amazing use of language to create such vivid characters and scenarios, we also had a go at creating our own Swallow, I can't remember exactly what we made them out of, or what colour the boats were, or anything really. My sisters and I did discuss it but none of us completely agree. I do remember that the boats were pretty cool and making them was great fun- I can vaguely remember having VERY sticky fingers from all the glue we used!

The characters that Arthur Ransom created is another reason I love Swallows and Amazons. The Swallows, John, Susan, Titty and Roger, are an extremely adventurous and close-knit family. When they decide to go camping the children don't argue about where they want to stay instead they have all agreed to visit Wild Cat Island. The Swallows are all natural explores and they enjoy being outdoors, discovering new places and spending time with one another. As well as group characteristics Arthur Ransome develops each of the Swallows individually using aspects such as packing the Swallow and the sorts of books they read. To Arthur Ransome his characters were real and this is very clear through the amount of detail he puts into his characters.

The Swallows parents are very supportive of them and their adventures. They allow them to sail on the lake on their own because they trust them to be responsible and learn from their mistakes. Both parents are also very active and outdoorsy which is one of the reasons that the Swallows enjoy sailing and being outside so much. The father is a particularly strong influence on the Swallows even though he is never actually present. He works on a ship and is often discussed by his children who greatly admire and respect him.

As much as I love the Swallows my favourite characters in Arthur Ransome’s book are Nancy and Peggy, otherwise known as the Amazons. I like these two girls because whilst being both responsible and practical like Susan and John they are also highly imaginative and adventurous. Clearly most at home on the lake, or at least in some form of mischief. For me I liked the balance Ransome creates in these two characters. They aren’t overly responsible and ‘grown up’ like John and Susan, who at times can consequently miss out on some of the fun, but also don’t go off and enjoy themselves leaving everyone else to pack the boat or make lunch like Titty does.

I really advise picking up and reading this book. It is full of memories and experiences that people of any age can enjoy. 

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