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The Big Six

(Swallows and Amazons #9)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,026 ratings  ·  38 reviews
In this (more or less) sequel to the adventures of Coot Club, Arthur Ransome returns once more to his beloved Norfolk Broads where trouble is again brewing for Joe, Bill, and Pete, the three boatbuilders' sons who (more or less) live full-time aboard the Death and Glory and the three Coots, Tom, Dorothea and Dick. The problem seems to be that boats are constantly being set ...more
Paperback, 367 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by David R Godine (first published 1940)
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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,026 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably my least favourite Ransome and I've never previously been able to work out why. But I think it's for two reasons:

1. Quite a lot of it is actually quite miserable. It's no fun being hounded when you're innocent and even when Dick and Dot turn up, it's still quite hard going for the Death and Glories.

2. There is stuff Dot isn't allowed to do just because she's a girl. I can't seriously believe for a second that the creator of Nancy Blackett thought this was correct - it's Mrs Barr
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A breathlessly exciting detective story with children in peril, reputations in the balance, and injustice on all sides. One of Ransome's best, with his effortless handling of the detail of life in and around boats, as well as the depiction of a childhood world that impinges on the adult one, and in serious ways, but still manages to keep a separate sense of fun and magic.
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

In the eight books of the Swallows and Amazons series published prior to The Big Six, Arthur Ransome’s wonderful characters have imagined themselves in a whole host of situations. Sometimes they are sailors; at other times, they’re miners, at still other times, they’re explorers. This time around, the Death and Glories (Joe, Bill, and Pete) and Tom Dudgeon as well as Dick and Dorothea, fancy themselves detectives, and they’re not too far off
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
Joe, Bill, and Pete are fixing up their boat, the Death and Glory, with bunks, cupboards, and a little stove, so that they can camp out on the river all winter long. When someone starts casting off boats in the middle of the night, it gets blamed on the boys, and they have to prove their innocence. With the help of Coot Club members, Tom, Dick, and Dorothea, they start their own detective agency to track down the real culprits.

As always, I adore this interesting story, full of nautical knowledge
Stephen Hayes
When I was a child, books by Arthur Ransome were the kind of children's books that adults thought that children ought to read, but which I found rather boring. Our school library was well stocked with them, so I read a few, but if I'd been on Good Reads back then I'd have given them two stars, three at the most.

I can remember little of what I read, and perhaps I read Coot Club, of which this is a kind of sequel, and I suppose my main memory is knowing what the Norfolk Broads were -- the kind of
Emily M
Definitely my least favorite of the series thusfar. One of the most delightful things about Ransome's stories, at least to me as a homeschooling mother, is how understanding the adults are about letting the kids go off and have adventures. I aspire to be like the Best of All Natives or Mrs. Blackett, and Commander Walker is in my top five fictional father figures of all time. So the charm is how much the kids get to do on their own, while staying safely just within reach of parental supervision. ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Growing up the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome was one of my favorite series. When I decided to re-read it as an adult I was worried that it would not stand the test of time. I was delighted to find that in general found it just as enjoyable now as I did as a child. The characters, writing style and adventures are great and I truly enjoyed the series.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a real page turner, who done it???? had to keep reading to find out - most in one afternoon!!
Nicola Brown
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A really fun read.
Heidi Hepburn
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
O - LD

Mar 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: series, juvenile, fiction
THE BIG SIX is number 9 of 12 in the memorable and popular SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS series by Arthur Ransome, published in the 1930s-40s; this particular one takes place in the Norfolk Broads of northeastern England, particularly the waterways and villages around Horning, and highlights self-reliant children who cooperate with one another in boating, fishing, and village life activities.

Atypically, this book has a detective-style plot flavor and includes neither the Swallows (the Walkers) nor the Am
Friend of Pixie (F.O.P.)
This sequel to The Coot Club has no Swallows or Amazons. It returns to the Norfolk Broads and focuses mostly on the Coot Club's Death and Glories, with Dick and Dot having minor roles.

I really have no idea how to rate this one. Logan loved it a lot, but at the same time, it was kind of frustrating for both of us that it's SO obvious who the culprit is and yet the kids just don't have a clue. Still, as always, Ransome comes through with amazing detail, adventure, and comradery, all of which so ap
Ok, we are now reading aloud this "Swallows and Amazons" book in the evening! See my review for "Coot Club" to get the setting for this book. We are once again in the Norfolk Broads (rivers), but this time detective work is the order of the day to prove that the "Death and Glories" are NOT the ones casting off boats in the middle of the night.

This book went in a bit long for us. There were just two or three (o
Steve Johgart
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Older kids, young adults, lovers of youth-oriented mysteries
Recommended to Steve by: My mom, when I was in 5th or 6th grade
Book 9 of the "Swallows and Amazons" series that I loved so much when I was in upper elementary school. This book is a most enjoyable mystery story, featuring the characters from the earlier book in the series, "Coot Club". The book spins a tale of a group of ingenious young people turning detective to clear themselves of accusations of dastardly and illegal maritime deeds, and to catch the real perpetrators who were out to frame them. As always, Arthur Ransome creates wonderful characters, and ...more
Richard Burton
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children, fiction
Who'd have thought there'd be a detective/mystery thriller book amongst the Swallows & Amazons series? The Big Six returns to the Norfolk Broads and we meet again most of the cast of Coot Club (no S&As in this story). In fact this follows directly on from the actions of Coot Club where a boat was set adrift by one of the club members (for good reason, of course). This time dozens of boats are being set adrift and the blame is being placed squarely on the Death & Glory boys (who didn' ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
Back on the Norfolk Broads and another adventure. This one captures the pleasures of the outdoor life to children, the idea of wrongful accusation and a nice little detective story with young Dorothea in charge. The story of all of this is engaging but it comes at the expense of the absorbing evocation of place and time that mark out Ransome at his very best. Still, a very good read. As I've said earlier; I don't read these to re-capture my childhood or even to pretend to a childhood I never had ...more
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
I enjoyed the book, though I can't say I would be in any hurry to read it again. I don't know whether it was spoilt for me or improved by having seen an old TV series which followed the story very closely and captured the characters and the atmosphere very well - knowing what was going to happen took much of the suspense out of reading what was quite a long-winded, slow-moving, and repetitive book. A promising start - it's the first Arthur Ransome book I've read and I wouldn't be averse to readi ...more
Aug 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, fiction
The Coots and the D's return as they gather evidence to clear their good name. Not as exciting as some of the other Ransome books, but there's plenty of ingenuity shown as the detective work turns to trapping the real culprits in the act. Note references to flash powder and old-fashioned cameras might be a little confusing to kids used to digital cameras, though there is an interesting description of the children developing photos in a makeshift darkroom. Includes some terribly un-PC comments by ...more
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
I found and read the Swallows and Amazons series in my early 20s. I am only sorry I did not find them earlier. Stories of the family's summer adventures are beautifully written, and encourage responsible and creative living. Self reliance, intelligent reasoning skills, and strong imagination with these children provide an excellent backdrop for this series of books, as well as strong roll-models for any youngsters reading them.
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
With the same cast as in Coot Club this is a welcome return.
Once again the characters have almost equal billing although perhaps Dick and certainly Dot are in the lead. Detective work in finding out who is casting boats adrift and stealing.
The title is supposedly derived from the Big Five as Dot explains. Being a group of top Scotland Yard detectives but there is six of them.
The second half is much freer from the flaws. There is one quick but nasty other problem--a child describes a photographic negative, of a face, with the N-word. Other than that -

It was wonderful.

Read it during the run of 'The Borrowers'!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jed Mayer
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little short on the sailing angle that makes this series so addictive, but nevertheless, a marvelous evocation of a time and place that is, perhaps, irrecoverable; reading Ransome is always like reliving the greatest summer getaway you ever had.
Oct 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Big Six by Arthur Ransome (2001)
Kate B
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved all the Swallows and Amazons books as a child. The Big Six has the cleverest plot.
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s
A frustrating story. Not AR's best.
Claire Haeg
Feb 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Not my favourite, but at least it's not Peter Duck.
Kathryn McCary
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ninth of the Swallows & Amazons. Back to Norfolk, the Coots and the Ds, and a hilarious detective story.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Continuing my re reading of Arthur Ransome's wonderful books. The fact that I have reread these many a time since childhood and am now nearing 50 says it all really.
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Arthur Michell Ransome was born in Leeds in 1884 and educated in Windermere and Rugby. His family spent their summers at Nibthwaite, to the south of Coniston Water.

In 1902, Ransome abandoned a chemistry degree to become a publisher's office boy in London. He used this precarious existence to practise writing, producing several minor works before Bohemia in London (1907), a study of London's artist

Other books in the series

Swallows and Amazons (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Swallows and Amazons (Swallows and Amazons, #1)
  • Swallowdale (Swallows and Amazons, #2)
  • Peter Duck: A Treasure Hunt in the Caribbees (Swallows and Amazons, #3)
  • Winter Holiday (Swallows and Amazons, #4)
  • Coot Club (Swallows and Amazons, #5)
  • Pigeon Post (Swallows and Amazons, #6)
  • We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea (Swallows and Amazons, #7)
  • Secret Water (Swallows and Amazons, #8)
  • Missee Lee (Swallows and Amazons, #10)
  • The Picts & the Martyrs or Not Welcome at All (Swallows and Amazons, #11)
“He ain’t a Coot not really,” said Bill. “He ain’t got a head on him no better’n a squashed frog. I see him all right but he don’t know nothing. Fishing he were on the gravel reach.”
“Catching anything?” asked Pete, who, detective or no detective, was still a fisherman.
“Perch,” said Bill.
“Oh, never mind the fish,” said Dorothea. “Had any boats been cast off?”
“He tell me to keep my shadow off the water,” said Bill. “So I creep up and give him one of my sandwiches and when I ask if any boats been cast off, why Tommy he say ‘How do you know?’ “
“Go on. Go on,” said Dorothea, reaching out for one of the little black paper flags all ready on its pin.
“I say I don’t know but I want to know and Tommy he say it weren’t his fault and I say when were it and what boat and Tommy he said it were his Dad’s row-boat and he give it Tommy to tie up and Tommy he tie it to a stick what broke and he have to go in swimming to catch it.”
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