Little Ann’s Uncle Bill is a sailor who captains a container ship called The Ticklefish. The ship got its name because it has the strange ability to make any fish that comes near it smile. Uncle Bill has written a letter to his niece promising he will bring her a present from “the other side of the ocean”. As Uncle Bill and his boat sail away, THE TICKLEFISH ADVENTURE chronicles the various fish and other sea creatures that it encounters on its voyage and shows how, in their own way, they all help to ensure that Little Ann will get her gift.
THE TICKLEFISH ADVENTURE is a simple tale told in picture book form. There are some clever lines of dialogue and witty wordplay that briskly move the story along. It’s engaging and occasionally exciting but, even in the moments of high drama when the ship gets caught in a storm, there is no real notion of danger to concern younger children. For the most part, this is a light-hearted take on the familiar format of the onboard adventure. There are plenty of laughing fish, dancing crabs, noisy seabirds and other animals and a nice call back to each as they repay the kindness that Uncle Bill and his crew have shown them by helping him retrieve the temporarily lost gift. It’s a wholesome moral story that plays out naturally without any need for explicit explanation.
The illustrations by Floyd Ryan Yamyamin are vibrant and reminiscent of traditional film animation. The artist’s renditions of anthropomorphised animals and boats are infused with a real sense of movement and vitality. Yamyamin’s skills are apparent in the way characters such as the very hungry whale and the lost sea turtle are given instantly recognizable personalities during their brief appearances in the book and in the way that the human characters’ own emotions leap from the page.
There is a lot of fun to be had on THE TICKLEFISH ADVENTURE with many memorable, quirky characters and there is more than enough detail in the illustrations to merit plenty of return visits to reread the book. With Uncle Bill and his sea creature friends, author Shooshnick Roquefort Vattelsquat III has launched a character who warrants further high seas adventures.
THE TICKLEFISH ADVENTURE is a beautifully illustrated seafaring tale featuring friendly fish, a hungry whale and a lost sea turtle. At its heart is a simple moral tale of how lending a helping hand, or fin, is always the right thing to do. So, God bless the Ticklefish and all who sail in her.
~Kent Lane for IndieReader