The Swallows and Amazons, along with Captain Flint (the Amazons’ Uncle Jim) are preparing for a holiday in a small schooner, the Wild Cat. When they hire Peter Duck as an extra sailor, things begin to happen. The notorious Black Jake and his ship Viper begin following their every move. Why? Peter Duck was witness to a treasure burial many years ago and word has gotten to Black Jake. Captain Flint thinks a go at treasure would be a good vacation, so off they sail into an adventure.
Peter Duck is meant to be a story made up by the Swallows and Amazons during a winter holiday. However, this is never explained, so the book could be as real as you want it to be. Here we have a rollicking good time hunting for treasure, fighting pirates, and sailing on the open sea. I thought the story dragged a little at the beginning, but once Arthur Ransome hit his stride, I was carried along and reading at a furious rate. Guaranteed to make you wish you were sailing!
Jay Berry Lee loves to explore the river bottoms near his home in Oklahoma. One day, his dog, Rowdy, finds a strange creature in a tree. Jay Berry finds out from his grandpa that the creature is an escaped circus monkey and that there are about twenty-nine more. The circus is offering two dollars for each monkey, except for one. This one monkey is the leader of the other monkeys and the reward for it is a hundred dollars. Having the opportunity of making so much money, Jay Berry sets out to capture all thirty monkeys, but the task proves to be harder than he had expected.
Summer of the Monkeys is filled with Jay Berry’s humorous adventures. Every time the boy thinks he’s outsmarted the monkeys, the monkeys outsmart Jay Berry. Though there is some questionable theology about the Old Man of the Mountains, but the rest of the book is great. Be sure to have a tissue handy at the end because it’s very touching.
Pippi Longstocking lives all alone in Villa Villekulla in a little village in Sweden. When the neighbor children, Tommy and Annika, come over to play, they discover that Pippi is no ordinary little girl. Pippi has a different, crazy way of doing many common things, making every chapter a laughter-filled delight as Pippi becomes a thing-finder, goes to school, and has other adventures.
I really can’t say much about Pippi Longstocking that hasn’t been said. The book, originally written in Swedish, has been around for longer than I have and is a favorite of children everywhere. This book serves as an introduction to the mischievous, big-hearted Pippi, paving the way for the, in my opinion, better sequels. But the first volume is still fun and worth reading.
This is the story of how Tommy Stubbins, the son of Jacob Stubbins, the shoemaker, first met the Doctor and became his assistant. Soon after Tommy begins to learn some animal language, a purple bird of paradise named Miranda arrives to tell Doctor Dolittle that Long Arrow, a great Indian naturalist, is missing. Doctor Dolittle decides to take a voyage, even though he won’t be able to meet Long Arrow. To decide where to go, they play a game called Blind Travel. They end up choosing the very spot that Long Arrow was last seen in, Spider Monkey Island. They set off at once with Bumpo, Crown Prince of the Jolliginki; Jip the dog; Polynesia the parrot and Chee-Chee the monkey and encounter some wonderful adventures.
There’s something about the Doctor Dolittle stories that I really like. They are so much fun. I left half the book out of the review, as it would take a really long review, not to mention give some of it away, if I told you all of the wonderful details. Some of the animals are great, and the Wiff-Waff is so funny, not to mention fun to say. “Wiff-Waff.” Anyway, I enjoyed this book a lot.
Dr. Dolittle is the best doctor ever, but none of his patients will come because of his animal pets (think crocodiles!). Because of this, he can’t make any money. So his parrot teaches him how to speak to Jip, the dog. The doctor is eager to learn, and learns to talk to all his pets. All the animals hear about it, and come to him, and the house is crowded. Then a swallow comes with news of an epidemic among monkeys in Africa. Can Dr. Dolittle make it through storms, pirates and angry natives to help the monkeys?
Ah, Hugh Lofting has such a fun way of writing humorous, exciting stories. I didn’t even mention Gub-Gub, the food loving pig; Too-Too, the owl with a head for figures; or the cute little White Mouse who lives in the piano. Worth reading again and again.
Note: There has been a lot of controversy about Lofting’s books, because some people thought they were racist. Because of this, some newer editions don’t have portions that editors thought were offensive. I will say that I have read the originals, and found nothing wrong with them, merely a slight British patriotic spirit. If you want to read the originals, your library will be more likely to have them than the book store.