From Child’s Play Music
For me, “Swallows and Amazons” is the greatest children’s adventure novel of all time. But this is not exactly a review: it’s more about how our present generation of children has had their freedom and lives stolen from them by society’s excessive fears for their safety. Swallows and Amazons is all about trusting young children to take sensible calculated risks – risks that children today are denied.
“Better drowned than duffers if not duffers won’t drown.”
So reads the telegram that the Walker children have been waiting for, in Arthur Ransome’s 1930 children’s novel “Swallows and Amazons”. It’s the tale of the perfect summer holiday; a summer the children spend sailing a small dinghy on ‘the lake’ in the English Lake District, camping on ‘Wild Cat Island’.
That telegram is from their father, and it is a mark of trust. A trust that his children are not ‘duffers’. That his children can be trusted to act sensibly and to take responsibility for their own actions. Alone; without adults to tell them what to do or how to do it. Adults exist in this book, but they are peripheral. The children are the active agents: they are the ones calling the shots and making the decisions.