Estate planning lawyer and mom to two boys. My older son liked audiobooks as an infant, and I've listened to a lot since then.
I'm torn about how to review this book. I adore Stephen Fry's narration, and we all have loved the Paddington stories. I'd particularly recommend the other two that are available on Audible. I realize this comment may be unfair, but I didn't notice how short this one was when I bought it. The other two audios are over 2 hours long and this is like 13 minutes. So I wanted to warn any prospective purchasers who thought this was volume 3 of a wonderful series.
On the other hand, anyone who loves children's books on audio needs to listen to Paddington as read by Fry. I would just recommend the other 2 recordings.
When my sons and I listen to audiobooks, I usually enjoy them as much as the kids. This wasn't one of those times. That said, my 11 year old son finished the book in just a few sittings, on an airplane. He said this wasn't his favorite and wasn't interested in listening to the sequels, but clearly it held his interest while he was listening. His biggest complaint was that the focus of the story was on dating and relationships, and he assumed from the title it would be mostly tied in to Star Wars.
This is a popular series so I assume our experience is an anomaly, but wanted to share our thoughts in case you have a kid who doesn't like relationship drama, or like me want to find books you both enjoy.
I love listening to or reading books--especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, classics, & historical.
This is an utterly charming audiobook! Arthur Ransome's story about the four Walker siblings ("Able Seaman" Titty being my favorite!) and the two "Amazon Pirate" girls and their idyllic adventures during a perfect August in 1929 sailing around a big lake in the Lake District and camping on Wild Cat Island in it is vividly, humorously, winningly told. Ransome is so good at capturing how kids play, with one half of their minds and hearts in fantasyland (pirates, explorers, the Pacific ocean, sharks, buried treasure, sea battles, walking the plank, deserted islands, etc.) and one half in the real world (making safe fires, cleaning fish and pots and pans, teaching a younger sibling how to swim, managing sailboats efficiently, etc.). He's so good at depicting how their thoughts and imaginations and hearts work! And his girls, especially Titty and Nancy, are at least as imaginative, bold, wild, and strong as the boys.
I cringed at first when I heard the kids referring to the "natives" (locals) from the standpoint, I thought, of "civilized white explorers," but then it turned out to be their way of signifying killjoy adults who are too serious to enter into the kids' fantasy world and became a complex and interesting use of language.
The reader, Alison Larkin, is perfectly suited to the book. She speaks clearly, thoroughly understands and feels what she's reading, slightly varies her voice for the different characters (from Ship's Boy Roger to Captain Flint), and speaks with infectious good humor and spirit, so that listening to Ransome's delightful text becomes a big smiling and chuckling pleasure.
The book is also surprisingly moving (without being at all sentimental), as when, near the end, Mrs. Dixon, the local farm woman who has been supplying the kids with fresh milk every morning, says she'll miss them after they leave the lake the next day, and Titty says, "But we'll be back next year and every year after that for ever and ever," and Mrs. Dixon replies, "Aye