Coot Club, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Tom Dudgeon has cast off a motor cruiser from its moorings to protect a coot's nest, but now the cruiser is searching high and low for him - even offering a reward.

Tom accepts an invitation for a week's cruise to teach his new friends, Dick and Dorothea how to sail.

You couldn't get a better sailor than Tom but can he really stay one jump ahead of his pursuers long enough to complete the voyage?


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Publishers UK
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Adventure
  • ISBN: 9780099427186

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The first of the two Swallows and Amazons books set on the Norfolk Broads, linked to the other books in the series by Dick and Dorothea from <I>Winter Holiday</I>. It's a few months after their trip to the North Pole, and they are still smitten with the sailing bug. So naturally they are very pleased when an old friend of their mother invites them to stay with her on a yacht in Norfolk. Unfortunately, it looks as though the boat won't actually be going anywhere... Of course, they make friends with some local kids who are all keen sailors, and find themselves involved in a complicated scheme to protect one of them when he has to go underground to hide from a bunch of Hullabulloos. Tom-Dudgeon-the-doctor’s-son (there is always a bit of a Happy Families aspect to Ransome) is an interesting new character: a bit like Captain John in the boyish way he carries the heavy weight of responsibility around with him, but with intriguing extra elements of handyman and ecoterrorist thrown into the mixture. The twins Port and Starboard are fun, but maybe a bit too generic. You get the impression that Ransome must have built them up out of a brief glimpse of two little girls in a racing dinghy, filling in the details where needed with bits of generic Nancy-and-Peggyness. Something I hadn't noticed when I read these books before is the cunning way Ransome never commits himself to saying how old the children are. That way he allows readers of a wide range of ages to identify with the characters, and he also gives himself the maximum freedom to make them independent or vulnerable as required by the plot. The three working-class lads who make up the crew of the Death And Glory seem to be a slightly too obvious concession to objections against the cosy middle-classness of the earlier books. They don't really emerge as individuals in this book, although of course they do have a much bigger role in <I>The big six</I>. The working-class adults who appear are portrayed affectionately and quite convincingly, but there is always a slightly patronising edge there. An elderly barge-skipper is shown to us as someone who should be respected for his experience and craft knowledge, but we’re left in no doubt at all that he has to acknowledge the little daughters of a country solicitor as his social superiors. We’re definitely still in 1930s England! Unlike the Lake District books, where Ransome found it necessary to obfuscate the locations a little bit, these Norfolk books are very specific geographically. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, it's now easy to find old Popular Edition Ordnance maps from the 1940s where you can follow their entire journey, including all the old railway bridges that aren't there any more. Ransome’s own sketch-maps are part of the fun of reading these books, of course, but it's nice to be able to relate them to a wider context, especially in places like Yarmouth, where so much has changed in the last fifty years.

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