'You know what it's like. Dark at teatime and sleeping indoors: nothing ever happens in the winter holidays.'
Or so Nancy thinks. Then the lake ices over completely and the Swallows and Amazons, along with Dick and Dorothea - ‘the D’s’ - plan a race to find the North Pole. How will they reach it if they can’t sail? By sledges of course! But when a blizzard blows up and there is a mix up about signals, the D’s disappear into the Arctic night. Disaster looms. Can the Swallows and Amazons save their friends?
BACKSTORY: Crack the Swallows and Amazons' code and learn all about the real Arctic exploration that inspired this book.
Winter Holiday is my favourite Arthur Ransome, the one into which I want to walk even now - if only it would just snow. Its depiction of the Lake District in winter is totally compelling. You can teach yourself to skate from Ransome's descriptions of the first tentative pushes across the ice-bound tarn
The children are kind to each other, the parents are loving, and there's no violence - it's hard to imagine nowadays, and it's all the more charming for that
Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome is 80 years old but it remains a delightfully fresh read
Full of nostalgia for a time when summer holidays seemed to go on forever, unaccompanied children could sail off on adventures together, and ginger beer was ever-present. And the appeal of such things still remains
So what makes these different to any other set of classics? In a moment of inspiration Random House had the bright idea of actually asking Key stage 2 children what extra ingredients they could add to make children want to read. And does it work? Well, put it this way...my 13-year-old daughter announced that she had to read a book over the summer holiday and, without any prompting, spotted The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas...and proceeded to read it! Now, if you knew my 13-year-old daughter, you would realise that this is quite remarkable. She reads texts, blogs and tags by the thousand - but this is the first book she has read since going to high school, so all hail Vintage Classics!