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Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series has stood the test of time. Ransome is not only a great storyteller, writing from first-hand experience, but each story celebrates eternally valuable qualities of practical knowledge, independence, and initiative. The twelve books are for children or grownups--anyone captivated by a world of sailing, adventure, and imaginati Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series has stood the test of time. Ransome is not only a great storyteller, writing from first-hand experience, but each story celebrates eternally valuable qualities of practical knowledge, independence, and initiative. The twelve books are for children or grownups--anyone captivated by a world of sailing, adventure, and imagination. In the eighth book in the series, the five Walker children are left on a "desert island" by their parents with provisions for a long stay and a blank map to fill in. Like all of Ransome's books, this is at once a real adventure and a lesson in the practicalities of exploring--in this case, of surveying the inlets, coves, mudflats, and estuaries of "Walker Island." Naturally, there are enemies to overcome (another clan named The Eels) and friends to meet (who else but the intrepid Amazons?).


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Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series has stood the test of time. Ransome is not only a great storyteller, writing from first-hand experience, but each story celebrates eternally valuable qualities of practical knowledge, independence, and initiative. The twelve books are for children or grownups--anyone captivated by a world of sailing, adventure, and imaginati Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series has stood the test of time. Ransome is not only a great storyteller, writing from first-hand experience, but each story celebrates eternally valuable qualities of practical knowledge, independence, and initiative. The twelve books are for children or grownups--anyone captivated by a world of sailing, adventure, and imagination. In the eighth book in the series, the five Walker children are left on a "desert island" by their parents with provisions for a long stay and a blank map to fill in. Like all of Ransome's books, this is at once a real adventure and a lesson in the practicalities of exploring--in this case, of surveying the inlets, coves, mudflats, and estuaries of "Walker Island." Naturally, there are enemies to overcome (another clan named The Eels) and friends to meet (who else but the intrepid Amazons?).

30 review for Secret Water

  1. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    Probably my favourite Ransome (although I've a feeling I've already said that, and I've not finished the series re-read yet). This one, while packed full of adventure, description, and siblings happily camping, is also awesomely geeky. Ever wondered how to accurately map an island? What do you mean, 'no'? Well, wake up and smell the saltmarshes ... But in fact there's not a huge amount of standing around holding surveying poles and taking compass bearings, because where this Ransome scores most i Probably my favourite Ransome (although I've a feeling I've already said that, and I've not finished the series re-read yet). This one, while packed full of adventure, description, and siblings happily camping, is also awesomely geeky. Ever wondered how to accurately map an island? What do you mean, 'no'? Well, wake up and smell the saltmarshes ... But in fact there's not a huge amount of standing around holding surveying poles and taking compass bearings, because where this Ransome scores most is on Conflict. There's loads of it. It shifts about unpredictably, and the only cross word comes from Susan, when Roger rushes the bleeding Bridget back to the camp site, but it's there, rippling under the surface, eddying like the water around the island. It's what makes this Ransome so interesting. Walkers vs the Navy, exploring vs war, savages vs explorers, the Mastadon's internal conflicts, John and Susan vs Titty and Roger ... And at the centre of it all is Bridget, properly on-stage for the first time. I'm not surprised (although I am always disappointed) that we don't get Bridget back again in the last few books. She shows every sign of being an even bigger star than Captain Nancy Blackett, and that wouldn't do at all. Nancy is also slightly outshone in this book by Daisy, the leader of the Eels. The upshot of all this shining is that Peggy is so overshadowed that at the corroborree she disappears altogether (go on, go back and count the savages in the attack). Ransome does well handling a main cast of eight (Winter Holiday, Coot Club, Pigeon Post) but perhaps eleven is just a little too many, even if two of them (Dum and Dee) are basically interchangeable and hardly say anything at all. It's beautifully plotted, as by this stage in the series we've come to expect, and meticulously described. The illustrations are good, too - Ransome is better at scenes than figures, and of course there are the maps. Starting with a map that just consists of vague blobs showing roughly what's land and what's sea, day by day as the explorers do their work the map becomes more and more detailed. It is quite brilliant. But don't just look at the maps: read the story, too. Even geeks can have fun.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tharindu Dissanayake

    "It's not that, you blessed gummock." Unlike most previous installments of Swallows and Amazons, Secret Water, the 8th in the series, picks up the story right after where the last one finished off. And the old gang's back to yet another entertaining adventure together. ' "As eggs is eggs," said Roger. ' I'm still amazed how the author succeeds every time to make each story very interesting while not making anything feel repetitive. And as for this particular one, I believe it is one of the best one "It's not that, you blessed gummock." Unlike most previous installments of Swallows and Amazons, Secret Water, the 8th in the series, picks up the story right after where the last one finished off. And the old gang's back to yet another entertaining adventure together. ' "As eggs is eggs," said Roger. ' I'm still amazed how the author succeeds every time to make each story very interesting while not making anything feel repetitive. And as for this particular one, I believe it is one of the best one's yet. Can't wait for the next book. "Jibbooms and bobstays! Everything's just right. I'm only thinking about the savage chief. We ought to do things properly. Look here, Mastodon." ' "Great Congers and Lampreys," burst out Nancy. "We can't deblood ourselves now." ' "Swallows and Amazons and Eels for ever. Blood brothers and sisters till death do us part."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Secret Water was first published in 1939, when its author was 56. Arthur Ransom was finished with his Russian adventures by then, but he may have still been a spy, and perhaps a double agent working for both the Soviets and the British. Did he get his interest in mapping terrain from his wartime activities in WWI, or had he been up to something more recently? I ask these questions only because the children of this novel occupy a different world than children do today. Daddy and Mother turn them Secret Water was first published in 1939, when its author was 56. Arthur Ransom was finished with his Russian adventures by then, but he may have still been a spy, and perhaps a double agent working for both the Soviets and the British. Did he get his interest in mapping terrain from his wartime activities in WWI, or had he been up to something more recently? I ask these questions only because the children of this novel occupy a different world than children do today. Daddy and Mother turn them loose in the marshes for several days, with the assignment to map their surroundings, which they do with a kind of focus and ferocity that belies their age and the other play-acting that goes on around the exploratory activities. It's a curious story, filled with vague danger and precise cartography. In the end, it's not clear that there is any point to the mapping, except that the task is completed and Daddy approves. It sounds for all the world like MI6 sending off a spy to check out terrain ahead of a war or at least some international tension. In the end, the job is indeed done and Daddy-the-spymaster is content -- but what happens to the map? The children don't seem to care much once the map is delivered; their portion of the operation is finished. I don't buy it. But the story is filled with the quiet drama of boats, tidal waters, and the perils of children on their own. It's great fun.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sho

    another excellent adventure with the crew of the Swallow including - finally - Bridgit aka Vicky (yaay) and the Amazons (three million cheers) and some new friends the Eeels (woo hoo) Way back between the wars children had a lot more leeway to do stuff on their own including building fires and camping overnight for days on end without adult supervision. As usual it's based near water, this time the Walker children are "marooned" by their parents (holiday curtailed due to some important stuff at t another excellent adventure with the crew of the Swallow including - finally - Bridgit aka Vicky (yaay) and the Amazons (three million cheers) and some new friends the Eeels (woo hoo) Way back between the wars children had a lot more leeway to do stuff on their own including building fires and camping overnight for days on end without adult supervision. As usual it's based near water, this time the Walker children are "marooned" by their parents (holiday curtailed due to some important stuff at the Admiralty) on an island with a blank map. The plan is to survey the area and complete the map. The Amazons show up, and they meet the Mastodon (Don) followed swiftly by Daisy, Dee and Dum: also known as The Savages and/or the Eels. There are skirmishes, encounters with adults (natives), ginger beer and picnics and a corroboree. And then they all go home. Fantastic stuff.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Claire Haeg

    I think this was once one of my favourites, but it is, on reading as an adult, a little tainted by some serious colonial-era racism!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    When a planned boating/camping trip with their parents falls through, the Walker children find themselves off on an independent expedition, this time with the youngest sibling Bridget along. While all the books in this series are of their time with comments about “natives”, this particular book made uncomfortable reading with its extensive stereotypes. Also, there’s a brief exchange meant to be funny which involves words most modern readers would find offensive. And the mapping exercise was a bi When a planned boating/camping trip with their parents falls through, the Walker children find themselves off on an independent expedition, this time with the youngest sibling Bridget along. While all the books in this series are of their time with comments about “natives”, this particular book made uncomfortable reading with its extensive stereotypes. Also, there’s a brief exchange meant to be funny which involves words most modern readers would find offensive. And the mapping exercise was a bit of a bore, too.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gavin Felgate

    The eighth book in the Swallows and Amazons series opens with the Swallows going to camp on an island, which feels similar to other titles, with one crucial difference, being that for the first time they take younger sister Bridget, previously very much a secondary character, on their adventure with them. Bridget also brings along Sinbad, the kitten introduced in the previous book. The characters are largely the same as they were in the previous books, and I still found John to be annoying becau The eighth book in the Swallows and Amazons series opens with the Swallows going to camp on an island, which feels similar to other titles, with one crucial difference, being that for the first time they take younger sister Bridget, previously very much a secondary character, on their adventure with them. Bridget also brings along Sinbad, the kitten introduced in the previous book. The characters are largely the same as they were in the previous books, and I still found John to be annoying because half the time he seems to be saying "Shut up" to younger brother Roger (Roger was always my favourite character, and John just always comes across as the bossy older brother who wants to be in control). In this book, there is an early indication that the island is inhabited by savages, which at first made me think there was going to be a more Robinson Crusoe-style adventure, and the savages' presence is made felt at first by the appearance of a mysterious totem pole in the Swallows' camp. While the subject of savages might sound a bit strong for a kids' novel, once you remember that this story is set just off the English coast, and that you realise that all the "savages" are in fact kids playing a game, this doesn't seem particularly sinister at all, despite the fact that Bridget becomes obsessed with becoming a human sacrifice. The kids end up meeting one of the "savages" (also known as the Eels) quite early on, a boy called Don (or "The Mastodon"), a character who is mostly portrayed as likeable despite the kids' suspicions of him. I'm not sure if the book would be allowed to be written as a kids' book now, not because of the plot involving references to cannibalism, but because of the fact that at one point all of the kids decide to become "blood brothers" with The Mastodon by mixing their blood with each others'. It's probably something that seemed fine when this was written, but with all the modern concerns about AIDs its probably not something that any parent would want their kids to copy. Aside from the threat of savages, who end up not being particularly scary at all, there are a couple of moments of real peril for the characters that provide most of the tension and excitement; you'll probably guess what the first moment of danger will be, as it is signposted a few chapters beforehand. At first I was annoyed; the Amazons, Nancy and Peggy, did not appear in the previous title, and it looked at first that they would be absent from this one, although they were still mentioned. I was quite thankful when about a third of the way into the story, they did show up, and it was really good to have both of them taking part in the adventure. As for the new characters, The Mastodon was the only one I was bothered about, though I'm not sure that any of them are likely to appear in future titles. The story did feel a bit more episodic than previous books, but I found this enjoyable enough that I wanted to keep reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    As a child these were my favourite books, I loved stories of adventure and my family holidayed in the English Lake District where these books are set so I knew the places they visited. Whilst on holiday I would imagine meeting the Swallows and Amazons on every lake. At school my friends and I would play Swallows and Amazons. My best friend Sarah and I, being the only ones who were truly obsessed by the books would take charge and we would, of course, be the Amazons. Sarah was always Nancy and I, As a child these were my favourite books, I loved stories of adventure and my family holidayed in the English Lake District where these books are set so I knew the places they visited. Whilst on holiday I would imagine meeting the Swallows and Amazons on every lake. At school my friends and I would play Swallows and Amazons. My best friend Sarah and I, being the only ones who were truly obsessed by the books would take charge and we would, of course, be the Amazons. Sarah was always Nancy and I, Peggy. Whichever of our other friends were roped in would be the Swallows. We would tack our imaginary boats across the Lake (the playground) and camp on Wild Cat Island (a mound at one end of the playground with two large elm trees on it). I still read these occasionally and can't wait till my own daughters are old enough for them! Swallows and Amazons for Ever!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I found and read the Swallows and Amazons series in my early 20s. I am only sorry I did not find them earlier. Stories of the family's summer adventures are beautifully written, and encourage responsible and creative living. Self reliance, intelligent reasoning skills, and strong imagination with these children provide an excellent backdrop for this series of books, as well as strong roll-models for any youngsters reading them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kailey (BooksforMKs)

    I love love love every book in this series, and this one is no exception! The Walker children are marooned on an island, and they explore their surroundings, carefully mapping out the terrain. But the local savage tribe of Eels wants them gone, and the explorers have to fight a brutal war when one of their own is captured. It’s all good fun and games! I love every chapter, and every delightful character!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dru

    My enjoyment of the book is a given, so here's my Secret Water anecdote, such as it is. I was driving up to Berney Arms on the Norfolk Broads, to visit some friends who'd moved there. I picked up a hitcher who was going home to that neighbourhood. In his childhood he'd taken the Mastodon as a role model, complete with platchers and a den in a derelict boat. It was good to meet a kindred spirit.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maureen E

    by Arthur Ransome Opening line: "The First Lord of the Admiralty was unpopular at Pin Mill." So, I have already documented the depths of my Arthur Ransome obsession love. Oh, the red caps! The sailing lessons! The singing of "Drunken Sailor"! The tacking at recess! Anyway, it's been awhile since I actually read any Ransome. When I saw Secret Water sitting on the new book shelf at the library I snatched it up, especially since I remember it being one of my favorites. And, oh my friends, I love this b by Arthur Ransome Opening line: "The First Lord of the Admiralty was unpopular at Pin Mill." So, I have already documented the depths of my Arthur Ransome obsession love. Oh, the red caps! The sailing lessons! The singing of "Drunken Sailor"! The tacking at recess! Anyway, it's been awhile since I actually read any Ransome. When I saw Secret Water sitting on the new book shelf at the library I snatched it up, especially since I remember it being one of my favorites. And, oh my friends, I love this book. Here is the basic premise: after the events of We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea (which is just as exciting as that title leads one to believe) the Walker children are reunited with their parents who have, in the Ransome parent way, devised an Exciting Adventure as a reward. They will all go to a secret location somewhere around Ipswich and, armed with a blank map, set forth to explore unknown regions. Also, they receive a card from Nancy that says "Three million cheers!" in semaphore, so clearly something is afoot. But then the First Lord recalls Captain Walker and he has to go off and it looks like they won't be able to have their fun after all. Of course, that's at the very beginning of the book. Bridget is always a nice addition to the gang and this is one of the first where she figures as a real character (as opposed to Vicky-the-baby). I giggled quite a bit over her human sacrifice part towards the end of the book. I have more sympathy for Susan than I used to. John and Titty are still great favorites. There were some nice additions to the regular gang on this one as well. All in all, I was somewhat startled by how well this held up to a re-read. There was enough understated tension to keep things interesting, while of course you know all along that everything will turn out all right in the end. This is Arthur Ransome after all. (And Nancy...you guys I still love Nancy so much.) Now I'm thinking a grand S&A re-read is in order. Book source: public library Book information: Godine, 2005 (first published 1939)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Probably my least favourite of the Swallows and Amazons novels, although it's hard to pinpoint why. It follows on straight after "We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea" and sees the Walker children marooned on an island and charged with the task of mapping the whole area. They are later joined unexpectedly by the Amazons, and meet the tribe of the eels. This is the first - and, I think, the only - book to feature Bridget, the youngest Walker, and by crikey she gets on my nerves. Somehow she is not convinci Probably my least favourite of the Swallows and Amazons novels, although it's hard to pinpoint why. It follows on straight after "We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea" and sees the Walker children marooned on an island and charged with the task of mapping the whole area. They are later joined unexpectedly by the Amazons, and meet the tribe of the eels. This is the first - and, I think, the only - book to feature Bridget, the youngest Walker, and by crikey she gets on my nerves. Somehow she is not convincing - she behaves like a spoiled brat, which is out of character for the Walker family, but speaks in a way that is older than her years (she can't be older than 4 or 5?) The whole mapping business is rather tedious and forces Nancy, at least, into a role that doesn't suit her at all. Neither do the Eels ever really come alive for me as characters. Still plenty of original plot twists, though - the part where Titty, Roger and Bridget are at risk of being caught by the rising tide is truly thrilling.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    This one never really worked for me. The sudden change in the Nancy character I could understand as John comes across as a total bore, perhaps with reason. It was just that the whole story didn't seem to have the normal Ransome ' I must read the next chapter ' feeling that I normally got when I first read it. It got to the point that I couldn't care less about what happened to any of them!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Secret Water, published in 1939, is the eighth book in Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series. There isn't much attempt to fill in new readers on details from previous instalments, but it's not difficult to figure out the general gist of things. In this camping adventure, the children explore an area of Essex marshland close to Walton-on-the-Naze. Whilst sailing around the islands and creating a map of the area, they encounter a tribe of other kids who call themselves the Eels. Despite ini Secret Water, published in 1939, is the eighth book in Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series. There isn't much attempt to fill in new readers on details from previous instalments, but it's not difficult to figure out the general gist of things. In this camping adventure, the children explore an area of Essex marshland close to Walton-on-the-Naze. Whilst sailing around the islands and creating a map of the area, they encounter a tribe of other kids who call themselves the Eels. Despite initial hostilities, the groups team up to work together and later engage in friendly warfare. The lack of any real conflict or serious mishap reflects its relatively young target audience, although adults with fond memories of outdoor activities as children will probably find something to enjoy. The plot is simple and unaffected, harking back to a time when children followed more innocent pursuits and were brought up on a stricter regime, despite being granted greater freedom. There is a tense scene where some of them are trapped on a narrow causeway by an incoming tide, but the fear of earning their parents' disapproval eclipses that of drowning. Ransome illustrates the book with his own black and white drawings which add some charm to the proceedings, yet the whole thing felt a little flat. Compared with their previous adventures, this dull mission of mapping tidal flats made for a rather watered down experience. Although not overly inclined to read other books in the series, I should probably pick up Swallows and Amazons one day.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kate H

    Growing up the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome was one of my favorite series. When I decided to re-read it as an adult I was worried that it would not stand the test of time. I was delighted to find that in general found it just as enjoyable now as I did as a child. The characters, writing style and adventures are great and I truly enjoyed the series.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sherwin C

    Excellent Story I first read this book when I was in my early teens, many years ago! I enjoyed reading it again; however I’m only rating this Kindle version three stars because it does not include any map! I solved the problem by having a library copy with small print next to me also.

  18. 4 out of 5

    The Mole

    Not a favorite... perhaps my least favorite of the S&A series... First, it seems quite slow compared to his other novels, and second I was not all that keen on the bloodbrothers, eel worship, and sacrifice themes. YES, I know it's just all make-believe... and that's OK. Let's just say it's "not my cup of tea". Looking forward to the next book, though. Not a favorite... perhaps my least favorite of the S&A series... First, it seems quite slow compared to his other novels, and second I was not all that keen on the bloodbrothers, eel worship, and sacrifice themes. YES, I know it's just all make-believe... and that's OK. Let's just say it's "not my cup of tea". Looking forward to the next book, though.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    4 stars because I enjoyed it, horrified though I was at the episode in which the younger ones get cut off by the tide and, something which probably didn't bother me as a child, equally horrified at the way Commander Walker speaks to the "savages". Oh dear! The strange landscape or seascape of the "secret water" and its muddy environment is haunting and memorable.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Each year, whilst on holiday in the Lake District, I expand my collection of Arthur Ransome books. Admittedly, this one is set in the Norfolk Broads but another good and nostalgic read which makes me long to sail.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Travers

    Still worth reading, of course. We are reading them all. We will not omit one. But I was a little less enthused by Secret Water. There are effective moments. Donald - the Mastodon - is pretty charming and likable.

  22. 5 out of 5

    f

    One of the best of the series - a beautifully constructed and paced tale that unfolds like a paper flower.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Hepburn

    T - LD Placeholder

  24. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    A charming and somewhat antiquated tale that brings with it a sense of nostalgia for the innocence of youth.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah TheAromaofBooks

    This series is literal perfection.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    Good to see them all get up to their old antics again. Was Bridget the same ahe as Roger in the first book or younger? Because she cried a lot haha....

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary BG

    Not as exciting as the previous superb #7, but another engaging rendition of the Swallows and Amazons continued boating and camping adventures. I have criticism for only a couple aspects where the new characters are depicted with not as much depth as previous individuals, and hauling the poor cat around seems rather abusive although meant as a harmless part of the fun. Otherwise, in our social media culture this is a fine depiction of kids playing closely together and inherently understanding wh Not as exciting as the previous superb #7, but another engaging rendition of the Swallows and Amazons continued boating and camping adventures. I have criticism for only a couple aspects where the new characters are depicted with not as much depth as previous individuals, and hauling the poor cat around seems rather abusive although meant as a harmless part of the fun. Otherwise, in our social media culture this is a fine depiction of kids playing closely together and inherently understanding what they are playing at. This demonstrates nicely that effective communication and positive standards of behavior translate to good times.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom. After the real-life adventure of the Walkers in We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea, it was hard for me to imagine how Arthur Ransome could continue to write exciting stories about these characters. After all, was not their journey to Holland on their own in a borrowed boat a final exam of sorts, the challenge toward which all their make-believe had been building? Thankfully, Ransome has a bigger imagination than I do, and his eighth book in the Swal This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom. After the real-life adventure of the Walkers in We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea, it was hard for me to imagine how Arthur Ransome could continue to write exciting stories about these characters. After all, was not their journey to Holland on their own in a borrowed boat a final exam of sorts, the challenge toward which all their make-believe had been building? Thankfully, Ransome has a bigger imagination than I do, and his eighth book in the Swallows and Amazons series is just as engaging as any of the others. Though the Walkers more or less mastered sailing in the last book, in Secret Water, they become true explorers. Their father drops them off on an island with a blank map, announces they are marooned, and leaves them there with one assignment: to explore uncharted territory and complete the map. Not long after, the Walkers are joined by the Blacketts, as well as a new group of “savages”, the Eels, who serve as guides among the islands and teach the Swallows and Amazons all about human sacrifice. There are a number of things about Secret Water that demonstrate the development of the characters, especially since the first book. Bridget, who was once known as baby “Vicky” is now a member of the expedition. She’s about four years old, and she constantly reminds her siblings that she is old enough to participate in the same things they do. I think most authors tend to portray youngest siblings like Bridget as annoying tag-alongs who hold everything up and make messes, but Bridget is a formidable little girl, and she has her share of shining moments. Roger and Titty, previously the youngest members of the expedition, are now old enough to venture off on their own and take responsibility for themselves and for Bridget. The spirit of imagination and make-believe is most alive in them this time around, though Nancy also gets excited, especially when it comes time to have a corroboree with the Eels. Susan is still the mother figure, and she plays that role much more completely when Bridget is around than in the past. John, who has in the past been just as much a part of the make-believe as anyone else, seems more fatherly in this book and also more concerned with impressing his own father. While Nancy worries about blood oaths and sacrifices, and Roger and Titty imagine themselves as Israelites and Egyptians, John focuses on the task at hand. We can see the beginnings of manhood in John, and I wonder whether we’ll see as much of him in the rest of the books of the series. Surely at some point Susan and John will outgrow the games of their childhood. I keep wondering whether their coming of age will figure into any of the stories. Secret Water is a great follow-up to the adventure of We Didn’t Mean to go to Sea. The story rewards the Walkers’ safe journey home with another, more controlled opportunity to explore their independence and we get to see just how much they all love, admire, and want to please their dad. The new characters - Don, the Mastodon, and Daisy, Dum, and Dee, the Eels - are a lot of fun, and again completely different from Dot, Dick, or any of the Walkers or Blacketts. I was also amazed that Ransome described things like changes in the tide and sailing routes in language that made it possible for me to imagine them and follow along. As curious as I am about the four remaining books in the series, I am disappointed that I’m two-thirds of the way through it already. I’ve come to really love these characters, and I’ll be sad when I finish the last book. That said, though, I’ve heard that book nine, The Big Six, is a detective story, and I’m really eager to see what that will be like, so I know it won't be long before I jump right into the next one.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Dewar

    Lovely Recommended for all ages but especially for children wishing for adventure. I hope new generations will continue to discover the wonder of exploration.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    On the whole I think that attitudes expressed in books should be considered according to the prevailing attitudes of the time they were written. There is always a sense of empire, of England's authority over the world reflected in the Swallows and Amazons books, but here, the changing of the main noun from natives to savages seems to cross my comfort line. The pinko twenty first century liberal is offended. The self deprecation is genuine. I know I'm being somehow hypocritical. While I'm applyin On the whole I think that attitudes expressed in books should be considered according to the prevailing attitudes of the time they were written. There is always a sense of empire, of England's authority over the world reflected in the Swallows and Amazons books, but here, the changing of the main noun from natives to savages seems to cross my comfort line. The pinko twenty first century liberal is offended. The self deprecation is genuine. I know I'm being somehow hypocritical. While I'm applying our own values to the 1930s I may as well express concern for the throw them in the deep end and if they drown they're duffers, irresponsible parenting that leaves three young children cut off on mud-banks by a swirling and rapidly rising tide, only to be spotted and rescued by chance. The capturing of the ship's baby by two boys who lead her, willingly away with them has shadows of a notorious case from recent years. My main reason for not rating this book as highly though, is that it lacks the atmosphere and storyline of the previous books. There is a tension between the characters that may be Ransome grappling with the problem of keeping his protagonists below puberty. He's got a first rate cast, and in this book he is able to develop the characters of Roger and Titty particularly. John is showing more signs of dominant and always dis-satisfied father syndrome, and he's left Susan high and dry in the angel of the hearth sans personality position. The whole series sets very high standards for children's literature. The influence on other writers is immense. We must forgive Mr Ransome if, in his annual updates of the adventures of the Walkers and the Blacketts, he falls short every once in a while. It's still a good deal better than many another writer on a good day.

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