The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy by Richard Pickard, reviewed by Evie Bath

Marina Minnow is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary imagination. In the quiet seaside town of Merlington, people rarely pay attention to her tales. But one day, one of Marina’s ‘tall tales’ becomes a reality… She meets a strange boy called William, with tentacles that sprout from his head and amber pincers rather than hands. Marina’s whole life is about to be turned upside down as she helps him solve the mystery of his past.

‘The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy’ by Richard Pickard is a heartwarming story full of plot twists and quirks. I absolutely love William and I think that he is a really special, unique character. As well as having quirky physical traits, such as claws which help him to prepare amazing sashimi, William is a fantastic boy with a gentle and caring heart. Another cool feature in this book is that all of the characters (except William) have fish-related names, which I think is really ingenious and funny.

I wanted to read ‘The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy’ straight through to the end as soon as I started it, as it’s such a unique book. At the beginning, there’s a ‘boy who cried wolf’ message about Marina’s tall tales. But the main message of the book is about acceptance – that you should treat someone not based on how they look but on how they act. The fishmongers of Marina’s town treat William like a fish at first, debating which parts of him they would sell. But by the end of the book the residents of Merlington learn to see William for the boy he is.

I adore the beautiful illustrations on the cover and at the start of every chapter, and I think the artist Maxine Lee-Mackie is really talented. Both the clever illustrations and the strange, unique characters in the book remind me of those in the ‘Starfell’ series by Dominique Valente (illustrated by Sarah Warburton) – if you like those books, you would certainly love ‘The Peculiar Tale of the Tentacle Boy.’ I would fully recommend this book to all children aged 9+, especially fans of mystery and adventure novels.