The Amazon Vine review programme sent me a copy of Nelly and the Quest for Captain Peabody by Roland Chambers to review, in exchange for my honest opinions. Here they are.
This is a wonderful book. It had all the qualities I look for in a children’s book. It was charming. It was funny. It was full of adventure and made you want to read on and keep reading. It was chock full of wonderful characters. It has whimsy in spades but without being too sweet or cloying. It has mystery and poetry and cleverness and I just cannot think of a single thing about it I did not like.
Nelly lives at home with her mother. She does not remember her father, an explorer and the Captain Peabody of the book’s title. He left his family to go on an exploration with the Gentleman’s Exploratory Flotilla. He was only meant to be gone for a year, but he has not come back. Nelly’s mother is vague and abstracted, and spends all day knitting and gardening and not really caring for Nelly. It is not that she does not love Nelly, she plainly does, but she is just not very good at real life.
Nelly on the other hand, is infinitely practical. She can cook and knit and balance the family accounts, and one day, sitting at the end of the dock, watching the ship her father built that was named after her, rotting away, she decides to do something about it. She refits the ship and sets out with her dreaming turtle, Columbus, to find her father.
She has many bizarre and strange adventures on the way, none of which I will spoil for you here. They are all fabulous, as is Nelly.
The book is beautifully illustrated by Ella Okstad, and they give a real sense of the dynamics of the narrative and the energy of Nelly. I loved everything about this. It would be perfect for boys and girls aged seven and up as independent readers. It would be a wonderful book to share at bedtime with younger readers, a chapter a night.
It reminded me very much of a modern day Pippi Longstocking story, which is absolutely brilliant, as I love Pippi Longstocking too.