Tag Archives: Swallows and Amazons

Book Nostalgia: Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur RansomeQuick anthology update: I was recently over at author Shay Fabbro’s blog talking about how we created the shared world for the anthology. And that’s it for promo today.

In this week’s installment of my Nostalgia series, I’m looking at the first of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books. (More to come in a future Nostalgia post!) Sailing, camping, pirates, and treasure…what’s not to love?

In case it’s been a while, here’s a quick summary to jog your memory. Swallows and Amazons features two groups of preteen siblings, each crewing a small sailboat on a large lake. The four Swallows, exploring the lake for the first time, are thrilled to be allowed to camp alone on an island…until the two Amazons arrive, and war ensues. There are night raids, an attack on a pirate houseboat, and the discovery of a treasure chest.

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Things We’ve Forgotten: Make-Believe

Did you have a vivid fantasy life as a child?

I just finished reading Jo Walton’s Hugo-winning novel Among Others, and one of the (many) things that struck me about it was how real make-believe can be for kids. I’m not talking about the fairies in the book — those are meant to be read as real — but about the names Mori and her twin use in their playing. Osgiliath, Glorfindel…of course on one level they know they’re conflating stories with reality, but on another level, those names are true in their heads.

When my sister and I were children playing explorers or servant girls or pirates, we had much the same experience. We knew our snowy backyard wasn’t the Arctic, but it didn’t matter. We knew the playground near our house wasn’t a sailing ship surrounded by sharks, but at the same time, it absolutely was. (Or a robber fort, or a medieval castle, depending on what we needed it to be.) We hadn’t yet learned to fear cognitive dissonance.

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My First Imaginary Lives

One of my recent blog posts got the most fabulous comment the other day. Here it is, in part:

I also thought I was one of a very few people who lived (not a typo) Trixie Belden as a young girl. Since my family house was near some beautiful woods and a creek, my best friend – also a Trixie fanatic – and I would pretend Bob-Whites all day long. Everything, and I mean everything, we saw became a mystery. We could turn the sight of an elderly lady driving a VW bug into a kidnapping plot. We tied ropes to the handle bars of our bicycles and they became our horses. My two older brothers were, unbeknownst to them, Mart and Brian. We aggravated them to no end by calling them these names. I was Trixie – always – and my friend was Honey. Playing Trixie Belden and the Bob-Whites was a dream escape.

This shared memory threw me back to a time when I pretended just as intensely. Trixie Belden wasn’t one of my primary inspirations, though. I drew from a lot of sources, and I’d like to share a few of them today. Maybe they’ll spark a memory for you, too.

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