Blog Tour: The Ocean Squid Explorers’ Club

I absolutely loved the first three books in this series which are so full of adventure and imagination, so was very excited to get invited to be part of the Blog Tour for The Ocean Squid Explorers’ Club and I’m just going to say it now: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT!

Written Alex Bell
Illustrated by Tomislav Tomić
Published by Faber& Faber on 4th February

If you want to be thoroughly entertained by a story that is full of gripping adventure, sparkling with incredible world-building and which introduces curious creatures and captivating characters, then read on …

The Ocean Squid Explorers’ Club is the fourth book in this outstanding fantasy series (The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club) and is set in a spectacular underwater world with fantastic new characters, creatures and world-building.  For those who are longing to see Stella again, don’t worry, she does play a part.  If you have not picked up this series yet:  firstly, please do and, secondly, you can read this one as a standalone but, be warned, you will then want to treat yourself to the rest of the series!

Twelve-year-old Ursula Jellyfin is a talented submarine engineer working at The Ocean Squid Explorers’ Club; however, she longs to become an explorer herself.  Unfortunately, whilst the other Clubs are now admitting female explorers, Ursula’s Club President remains stubbornly against such equality.  Imagine his fury if he were to discover that Ursula is keeping a secret from her Club, a secret that may well get her expelled, or worse:  she is half mermaid, and mermaids are the enemy of the Club!  Little does he know that the real danger is far more imminent, and sees the entire Club disappear inside a globe wielded by The Collector.  The only part of the Club that remains is the submarine, The Blowfish, and its new junior explorer crew …

So begins a remarkable, magical and exhilarating adventure through the depths of the ocean as the crew attempt to return the Sunken City of Pacifica, which is contained in a globe aboard The Blowfish, to its original location in order to gain the help they need to fight against The Collector and rescue their own Club.  On their quest, they find themselves faced with colossal sneezing jellyfish, a storm maiden and pirates, not to mention meeting mermaids and elegant squids!  I know – amazing! Suffice to say that the world-building is astounding and brimming with imaginative delights from the starfish disco to the secret of Gilly’s Island to Jaffles Hotel. I don’t want to say more about these places but, trust me, they are worth visiting!   I loved that the adventure took the children in unexpected directions and surprised me in so many places – this kept me utterly spellbound throughout. 

What can I say about the young crew of The Blowfish?  Ursula is determined, courageous and learns to be true to herself.  Max is a talented robot inventor (he makes seriously cool robots!), is quick-witted and is someone who doesn’t like to conform.  At first, he is at loggerheads with Jai who plays by the rules, is more serious and less trusting than his twin sister. Genie is an animal whisperer with an awe-inspiring companion, Bess.  She is kind-hearted, prepared to see the best in others and creative, with an incredible selection of hats.  I loved how individual they are, how they overcome differences and find a supportive and trust-filled friendship, strong and courageous enough to deal with the danger, revelations and difficult decisions thrown at them. 

The double page illustrations scattered throughout are absolutely stunning and complement the author’s superb world-building perfectly. 

This is a dazzling delight of an exciting, action-packed adventure that kept me gripped throughout and left me desperate for the next adventure with Ursula Jellyfin and her friends. 

Thank you to Faber Children’s for inviting me to be part of this Blog Tour.  Please do check out the other stops.

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