‘Nelly and the Quest for Captain Peabody’ by Roland Chambers with illustrations by Ella Okstad is fantastically, quirky book which I thoroughly enjoyed. Let me start by introducing you to Nelly,
‘When Nelly says she’s going to do a thing, she does it, whatever it is.
Juggle tea cups in the dark? Why not?
Live on lemons for a month? Of course!
Set out in a boat with knitted sails to discover her long-lost father, with only her turtle Columbus for company? Absolutely!’
Nelly is a bundle of determined energy with riotous red curls who will not let anybody stand in the way of what she needs to do. Left alone with her mother when her father Captain Peabody decided to go sailing around the world, she decides that she is going to take the matter into her own hands and go and find her father. The fact that her father’s ship named Nelly isn’t seaworthy is just a minor detail and she sets about getting it ready for her journey and knitting sails in the night whilst her mother sleeps.
After leaving her mother in the capable hands of a cabin boy with a full set of household instructions, she embarks on her journey of discovery with her pet turtle Columbus. Our spirited Nelly endures storms, whirlpools and waterspouts on her travels but nothing will deter her from her true course. She even meets pirates aboard The Red Penny and gets into a battle with them only to discover that the pirate captain is her postman which causes much confusion.
This highly enjoyable adventure is brought to life by Ella Okstad’s sublime illustrations in a vivid palette of red and grey, which manage to capture Nelly’s spirit. They provide a perfect contrast of Nelly set against the rest of the world who are seemingly trying to prevent her from making her dreams come true. Roland has created this fabulous world including lands within volcanos that are stuffed with so much sumptuous detail. You really do feel that you are part of Nelly’s intrepid adventure and get swept along in the excitement.
The relationship between Nelly and her father is intriguing as you feel that she is more of an adult but at the same time she desperately wants him to come home and be her father again. Although she is brave there is a sense of vulnerability about her which makes her more identifiable as a character. However I do think that children will love the fact that Nelly is able to sail this boat on her own through all sorts of perils, fight pirates and navigate her way to the North Pole all without any grown up help. This story will certainly capture their imaginations and take them on a rollercoaster of a journey full of danger and excitement. I can’t wait to join Nelly on more adventures in the future!
A big thank you to Oxford University Press for sending me a copy of this lovely book to review.