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At Sea But Not "All At Sea"...
We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea
Arthur Ransome
Of all the "Swallows & Amazons" books, this is the most compelling read -- it doesn't share the laid-back mood of most of the others, and the Walker children are in real danger, which is unusual for the series (the nearest to such would be the "Israelites" sequence {in "Secret Water"} or in "Pigeon Post" {in the "Moles" or the fire sequence} all of which are important but limited parts of the books).

Visiting aboard the "Goblin", the yacht of a young man they had recently met, they find themselves adrift in a fog, swept helplessly out into the North Sea as they drag (and lose) anchor, and then running before a full North Sea gale, with no idea where they are or where they are headed, and no certainty that they will not find themselves sinking on shoals or run down by much larger ships (In a particularly tense and thrilling sequence, just that almost happens, averted at the last instant by ingenuity and level-headedness on the part of Captain John.).

Facing the dangers they discover, drawing on their experience in sailing much smaller boats and on their own courage and common sense, they succeed in keeping themselves and the "Goblin" from harm, and even succeed in a mid-sea "rescue".

And, in the course of the adventure, John Walker (somewhere in his late teens, if i calculate aright) makes a major part of the step from boy to young man, learning valuable lessons about himself and what he is capable of, and keeping himself and his sisters and brother safe through the long, stormy night.

This is children's adventure at its best, with action, comedy, thrills and danger enough to satisfy almost any taste, but no violence, gratutitous or otherwise.