Shelfari edited the description of The Big Six: A Novel (Swallows and Amazons Series) Sunday, August 2, 2009.
In this (more or less) sequel to the adventures of Coot Club, Arthur Ransome returns once more to his beloved Norfolk Broads where trouble is again brewing for Joe, Bill, and Pete, the three boatbuilders' sons who (more or less) live full-time aboard the Death and Glory and the three Coots, Tom, Dorothea and Dick. The problem seems to be that boats are constantly being set adrift, and all the evidence points squarely at the three Death and Glories. In a clever bit of detective work, and with some help from a sophisticated photographic trap, the Big Six manage to exonerate themselves and catch the villains. Of course, this book, like all Ransome titles, is about a lot more than clever detective work; it has the smell of water and tarred rope, the sound of birds, and the plight of children left to their own devices and coping with everything from catching monster pike to trapping midnight eels. Ransome, who wrote these imperishable books, spent his childhood in England's Lake District, and after a career in journalism that took him to Russia (where he married Trostsky's secretary), China, and Egypt (interspersed with summers of cruising through the Baltic Sea and the canals of Europe), he retired to Coniston where he could practise his favorite pastimes of sailing and fishing and where he wrote Swallows and Amazons. What sets these books apart from other books of the period is both his attention to detail and his admirable ability to provide a wealth of practical information. If kids still exist who wish to know how to read a compass, handle a main sheet, reef a sail, bait a hook, or pitch a tent, these are the books they'll embrace.