Coot Club

Our rating: ***½

Dick and Dorothea Callum are on their way to visit Mrs. Barrable (who used to be their mother’s schoolteacher) for the summer, when they meet a boy named Tom Dudgeon. It turns out that he is a neighbor of Mrs. Barrable, and is also the oldest member of the Coot Club—a club consisting of himself and five other children, formed for the protection of birds along the river. But the real trouble begins when some rowdy tourists scare a pair of coots from their nest, and Tom casts off their moorings during the night. Dick, Dorothea, and Mrs. Barrable decide to help Tom hide from the angry tourists and take him on a trip down the river in Mrs. Barrable’s houseboat.

I was a bit put off that none of the original Swallows and Amazons were included in this book—in fact, all the characters are new except for Dick and Dorothea. Once you get to know them, however, it isn’t so bad, and I particularly like Mrs. Barrable and her habit of making drawings in the margin of her letters. Tom’s action, though desperate, could also be considered a bit questionable. I wouldn’t consider this one of the very best of the Swallows and Amazons series, but it’s still an enjoyable read.

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