Like Arthur Ransome, I spent many glorious summer holidays as a child in the English Lake District. So, when Audible invited me to narrate Arthur Ransome’s classic series for children, I was delighted to hop on the train to Audible’s recording studios in Newark and read all twelve novels for them.
Beginning with Swallows and Amazons (1930) and ending with Great Northern (1947) I was transported back to an England where children get rid of their parents by chapter two and head off on sailing and camping adventures in the Lake District, the Norfolk Broads or the South China Seas. Whether they’re escaping from Black Jake in Peter Duck, literature’s only Latin-speaking Chinese pirate in Missee Lee, or the formidable Great Aunt in Picts & the Martyrs, the adventures really are as engrossing and enchanting today as they were eighty years ago.
Last month, my eleven year old son put down the Hunger Games at chapter three ‘which EVERYONE in fifth grade is reading, Mom, EVERYONE’ – and asked if he could listen to the audiobook of Swallows and Amazons.
I let him play video games at weekends and try not to worry too much about the horrible looking creatures chasing kids with wild looking hair across the Wii screen and into my son’s imagination. But recently, at night, thanks to Arthur Ransome, my son has been dreaming of sailing boats and creaking oars and lakes and sea and sea gulls and picnics and knapsacks and Pirate ships and buried treasure and tent pegs and English children from an age gone by asking each other to please pass the pemmican and strawberry jam.