Chapter Books - Classics Feed

The Milly Molly Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley

Milly Molly MandyKingfisher, New York, 2001

Hardcover, 224 pages

ISBN: 9780753453322

Suggested reading age: 3+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: ****

This is a collection of stories about Milly Molly Mandy, the little girl who lives in the nice white cottage with a thatched roof.  They were originally published in several different books and were reissued in this edition.  Milly Molly Mandy lives with her mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, uncle and auntie.  The simple black and white illustrations by the author bring the stories to life and speak to us of life in an English village last century.  

Although the stories were written a long time ago, they manage to capture the innocence and sweetness of childhood and are still relevant today.  The language is a little quaint and it does take some getting used to but it is well worth the effort.  I have read and reread these stories to my girls and they still love them (even the nine year old!).

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Swallow and AmazonsJonathan Cape Ltd, London, 1987

Hardcover, 384 pages

ISBN: 9780224606318

Suggested reading age: 9+

Reviewed by: Indrani Perera

Rating: *****

Swallows and Amazons is a classic of English literature in the grand old adventure style.  You know the books - ones where the kids go off on amazing adventures with nary an adult in sight.  The difference with the Swallows and Amazons series of books, however, is that they are eminently believable.  The adventures are thrilling and daring, filled with imagination but not so far-fetched that they appear ludicrous or unbelievable.  A family friend lent me this book when I was twelve and I gobbled it up, nautical terms and all.  Learning to sail a boat is still on my bucket list!

In Swallows and Amazons, the first book in the series, we meet Susan, John, Titty and Roger who are on holidays at Dixon's farm with their mother and baby sister.  Their father is away in the navy and they are all keen sailors. They manage to convince their mother to let them camp out on an island in the river.  They use their boat, the Swallow, to ferry across to the island their tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and food.  Fresh supplies are rowed to them daily by the "natives" at the farm.  The story describes how the Swallows meet the Amazons and the adventures they have together.

Older readers will be able to read this book, younger readers may need to have it read to them.  It is quite dense and doesn't talk down.  You may find yourself frantically googling nautical terms to explain them to your curious child!

Other titles in this series - Swallowdale, Winter Holiday, Peter Duck, Secret Water, Coot Club, We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea, The Picts and the Martyrs, The Big Six, Great Northern, Pigeon Post, Missee Lee.