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Along the Saltwise Sea by A. Deborah Baker
The Biograph Girl by William J. Mann Break the Chains by Megan E. O'Keefe
Cheddar Off Dead by Korina Moss and Erin Moon (Narrator)
The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon
Cryptid Club by Sarah Andersen
Curtain Call by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Illustrator)
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney and Stephanie Racine (Narrator)
Due or Die by Jenn McKinlay and Allyson Ryan (Narrator) Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden
Guidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon and Susan Boyce (Narrator)
The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs
A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette and Melanie Carey and Paul Bellatoni (Narrators)
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
Leviathan by Jason Shiga
The Liminal Zone by Junji Ito
Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape) by Carrie Jones
Manor of Dying by Kathleen Bridge and Vanessa Daniels (Narrator)
Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott and Karen White (Narrator)
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie and Hugh Fraser (Narrator)
On This Airplane by Lourdes Heuer and Sara Palacios (Illustrations)
The Orphan and the Mouse by Martha Freeman and David McPhail (Illustrations)
Primordial by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino (Artist) and Dave Stewart (Artist)
Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette and Karissa Vacker
Sophie Go's Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim and Annie Q (Narrator)
The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner and Jeremy Holmes (Illustrator)
Tumble by Celia C. PĂ©rez
Unseen Magic by Emily Lloyd-Jones
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

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5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

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Along the Saltwise Sea: 12/05/22

Along the Saltwise Sea

Along the Saltwise Sea by A. Deborah Baker (2021) is the second book in the middle grade fantasy series, The Up-and-Under. Avery and Zib are still trying to get to the city by way of the Impossible Road. When they stop to rest and quench their thirst, they are sidetracked by a wishing well. Can they find their way back to the Impossible Road?

These Up-and-Under books are short, even by historic page counts. They are just shy of two hundred pages. Baum's original Oz books come in around 260 pages. I point this out, because Baker's series seems most influenced by the wordplay logic of Oz.

The children in Baum's books have agency, even if they are captured or enslaved by witches. They also manage to get to their stated goal even with numerous detours within the bounds of a single book. Avery and Zib have so far gotten pretty much nowhere on an uncooperative road and now are forced to work for a pirate captain.

Although Avery and Zib are the stated protagonists and they are ultimately the ones trying (sort of) to get to their respective homes, their presence in the Up-and-Under seems to be a vehicle for telling the stories of the full time residents. In the Oz books, meanwhile, there are books where no one from Earth visits (The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904), for example

Chart showing the relationship between the first two books on the Road Narrative Spectrum

As the focus of the novel is on the Pirate Captain's story, she becomes the traveler in terms of the road narrative spectrum. She and her mysterious prisoner are Scarecrow and Minotaur travelers (99). Their destination is the wildlands (99), meaning the high seas. Their route is an offroad one (66) via the ship.

The third book is Into the Windwracked Wilds (2022).

Three stars

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