The Peculiar Tale Of The Tentacle Boy

Authored by Richard Pickard
Illustrated by Steve Wells and Maxine Lee-Mackie
Published by Chicken House

The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy by Richard Pickard, is a fishy mystery full of adventure, set in the seaside town of Merlington.

The story centres around the wonderfully exuberant storyteller, Marina Minnow who, unlike the fish-obsessed residents of Merlington, finds the seaside town dull and longs for something eventful to happen. Marina’s father has been missing for six years leaving her with only hope that one day he will return. There are not many people who see the world in the same way as Marina, so one afternoon she sets off to prove that she can find a real-life adventure and sails over to the haunted pier. Whilst there, she stumbles upon William – a boy with tentacles for hair, pincers for hands and pearly scales for skin. Unwittingly, William provides her with the ghosts that she was searching for and reveals a dark secret which will change their lives forever. Desperate for answers and a vague recognition of a story that she once shared, Marina visits Granny Minnow at the care home. Since her father’s disappearance her Granny’s memory has ‘slipped away,’ but Marina believes that everything she’s learnt so far is connected and is determined to discover how.

The narrative, with its rich language and description brings the setting to life beautifully and Pickard’s love of the sea materialises vibrantly throughout the story. Clues to solving the mystery are carefully woven through the plot and a series of strange encounters, suspicious characters and devilish plans keep the reader guessing right until the end. There are some darker moments but order is resolved in an explosive and rewarding way.

This book would be perfect in the upper KS2 classroom. I think it would work brilliantly as a class or group reader with potential to explore themes of truth, friendship, deceit and determination. There are numerous fish references coupled with clever word play which will allow for some fun vocabulary activities. The story is very much about acceptance, and this will lend itself well to discussions about celebrating one another’s differences. There is also scope for deeper discussions about dementia and the loss of loved ones, should the opportunity arise.

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