Nelly and the Quest for Captain Peabody

Longlisted for the Read Aloud Category of the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award

Book Title: Nelly and the Quest for Captain Peabody

Author: Roland Chambers

Illustrator: Ella Okstand

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780192742698

Nelly and the Quest for Captain Peabody is the swashbuckling adventure of a little girl, a turtle and an epic voyage. Beautifully written by Roland Chambers, our hero, Nelly, bravely sets sail aboard her sailing ship, also named ‘Nelly’, to find her long lost father- Captain Peabody. Nelly’s unquenchable spirit helps her navigate her ship through storms, encounters with pirates and even waterspouts, proving that if Nelly said she was going to do a thing, she did it, whatever it was, no matter the effort!

After a long and perilous voyage, Nelly makes her way to the North Pole where she discovers her father’s ship, ‘The Penny Black’ and a rather unhelpful crew of gentleman sailors. In a terrible turn of events, Nelly’s explorer father has gone native, abandoning his ship and all thought of fatherly responsibility and it is down to Nelly to talk some sense into both him and his crew.

The character of Nelly shines through this fabulous tale of sea fairing adventure. Whilst humorous and lighthearted throughout, the book also deals with the more serious subject of a little girl's desire to be reunited with her distant father. Chamber’s use of figurative language throughout the story is both vivid and compelling, painting a picture of life at sea in rich detail.

Recommended to anyone who loves a fast paced, beautifully written adventure story with a hero full of character and spirit.

There are many, varied ways this text could be used within the classroom, especially as the book contains fantastic examples of rich, descriptive language.

  • The characterisation of Nelly - write about all the things the reader finds out about Nelly, then use this as a model for developing their own character.
  • Preparing for a voyage - make a report of the preparations Nelly makes before she sets sail. Readers could try shopping for equipment on a budget, or even knitting their own sails!
  • Ship's log - Nelly records her adventures in her journal. Readers could keep their own journal whilst reading the story or add to Nelly's experiences.
  • Maps - chart the course that the little ship 'Nelly' takes whilst reading the book.
  • Take a closer look at life at sea by researching real life explorers, for example, Ellen MacArthur.
  • Geography- take a look at the real life environments that Nelly encounters on her adventure from the frozen north to the volcanic island. 
  • Learn how to use a compass as Nelly does to help her navigate.
  • Take a closer look at the description of ‘The Penny Black’, Nelly's father’s ship, on page 71 and try writing descriptions of 'ghost ships'.
  • Nelly is very offended at being described as being ‘only a girl’- research famous women from history and the effect they have had on the world. This could also lead to discussing how language can be used to create/ maintain stereotypes and prejudices.