Though Swallows and Amazons is getting on for a hundred years old now, I still enjoyed most of this book. The sturdy, self-reliant children, dealing with the practical details of sailing and camping are wonderful role models, and they're not too perfect -- things do go wrong, and they make some dumb decisions (like sailing at night, a very tense chapter). And I especially love the way they effortlessly slip between reality and their imaginative world of pirates and explorers.
But -- and it's a big but -- this time around I noticed how the children's constant references to 'natives' (ie adults) and 'savages' really grated on my nerves. I'm ashamed to say that this made no impression on me whatsoever as a child or teenage reader, and was only really brought to my attention by the estimable Michelle Cooper. Without having recently re-read the books at the time of her blog post, I suggested that someone might rewrite the novel to remove those references, because I only clearly remembered one scene where Titty (oh dear) and her mother talk about 'savages', but now I realise how thoroughly the 'native' conceit is woven through the texture of the whole book, and as Michelle correctly noted, it would be impossible to remove. It's such a shame, because the positive aspects of the book are so strong, and yet its whole fabric is stained by this dated element. I think, I hope, that the 'native' side of things tones down somewhat in later volumes? I'm going to reread the rest of the series and find out; except for Missee Lee, which is so blatantly racist that even infant me picked up on it, and I've only re-read it once.