Top positive review
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A cracking story
on 9 December 2005
When I was nine years old my dad brought a present home from Jarir Bookstores. I will never forget that evening. It was a muggy, sultry Thursday night, the first day of the Jordanian weekend. My parents were going to a dinner party and they left me behind in the villa - with Arthur Ransome for company.
I felt very doubtful as I ploughed through the first page (how long does it take for a small boy to cross a field?!) but as the seconds ticked by I gradually slipped deeper and deeper into the world of the Swallows and the Amazons, a world of wild forests, lakes, snake-charming savages, robbery, warfare, piracy, and exploration. At one o'clock in the morning I was up to my waist in cold water with Titty, quietly scrambling into the enemy ship 'Amazon' with my heart thudding dizzily in my chest. "Quickly, quickly!" I urged her silently, my fingers gripping the pages just as tightly as her fingers gripped the oars. When my parents came home Mum was not pleased to discover me still curled up on the sofa at three a.m, eyes wide open, desperate to prolong my camping trip on Wild Cat Island. Dad just smiled; 'Swallows and Amazons' had been a childhood favourite of his, too.
I developed an obsession with the whole series, even going so far as to adopt the language and mannerisms of Captain Nancy Blackett. ("You tame galoot!" is still one of my favourite insults, and I'm now eighteen!) The synopsis for 'Swallows and Amazons' may sound boring in comparison to Rowlingesque fantasy - six kids go away to camp on an island - but Ransome's glorious imagination has turned this most ordinary of events into an exciting adventure story that is still capable of captivating children (and the odd university student...) sixty years further on. My copies still have houseroom on my overcrowded bookshelves, their faded covers and well-thumbed pages telling everyone who enters my room how much I love them. They rarely make 'em like this any more...