As you know, a good children’s book has much to teach grown ups and often far more entertainingly than any drabness you can dredge up in the ‘self-help’ department. The ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series, written in the 1930s, was once a standard feature on English family bookshelves (when bookshelves were also a standard feature), and I will review them and their wondrous illustrations separately.

For now, listen in and let me share this wise comment on Daoist leadership which lacks the banality of so many overused ‘leadership’ statements.   This Admiral is an elderly lady who invites a family of children to join her on a sailing expedition. They call her ‘Admiral’ out of deference, and she teaches them about leadership when the boy skipper asks her to take the wheel.

“Admirals never do take the wheel. They just hang about and try not to get in the way. Brother Richard always says that’s how you can tell a good one. He knows, because he was in the Navy during the War.”

For more of a taster of these timeless classics, see our review here, or simply enjoy some splendid cover illustrations for the books.


Source: Arthur Ransome, Coot Club (London: Jonathan Cape, 2009 (1934)), p. 290


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