The book is set in the Lake District in England between the World Wars in the late 1920's. It's a great story of two sibling groups finding high adventure and building friendships while on summer vacation. The story involves sailing, camping, fishing exploration, and piracy. There's just something nostalgic about it and the innocence of childhood.
Our kids loved the story! So much so, that one day they decided to go on "an adventure". They packed up all sorts of things and set out "to camp" near grandma's. Well, apparently Ruben thought he would climb the tree to "tie the string for the tent", but unfortunately he climbed too high and became stuck. Thankfully, The Farmer wasn't too far away and heard the panicked cries. He and Angel were able to rescue Ruben after some time, but it wasn't easy. Ruben's leg was wedged and he was so high up they had a hard time reaching. They had to use a ladder in the pick-up box. Wow, we're glad it all turned out and Ruben vowed not to do that again. It was one of those things where you must remain serious for disciplinary effect, while trying to hide the smile inside remembering a time when you may have done the same thing. ;-)
I should note some of the language in Swallows and Amazons can be a bit tricky. There was a wealth of sailing and boat terminology. Also, there are a few differences in language due to the British author/setting. We occasionally investigated definitions, but overall were able to figure it out from context. I like to challenge the kids with that higher level language and thinking. It stretches their mind and I've found they are capable.
Overall, we highly recommend Swallows and Amazons. Riley said, "It is a very, very good book!" Ruben said, "It was very good. I loved it!" Angel said, "I thought it was a good book, adventurous. It was enjoyable to listen to." All the children commented on re-reading the book at some point.
There are 12 books in the Arthur Ransome series. Swallows and Amazons is also part of the Year 3 Program at Charlotte Mason Help.
There is an awesome website here that shows illustrations of the boats and gives particulars for your nautical enthusiasts.