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Literature / T*A*C*K

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T*A*C*K are a series of children's Mystery Fiction books from the 1980's, originally published by Scholastic and written by Marvin Miller and Nancy Robinson. Riding the wave of Encyclopedia Brown and other similar mystery and puzzle series, each book presents six or seven chapters, at the end of which the reader is invited to try and figure out the solution before seeing how it is handled.

The small town of Sandy Harbor, Connecticut is a normal, quiet coastal community. However, sometimes things happen. Problems frequently rear up, perhaps bigger than the average person can handle. Maybe even involving mysteries, or elements of danger. Enter T*A*C*K, a group of four local kids willing to lend their thinking skills to help others out. No matter the situation, be it dealing with the local bully, planning a party, or helping repair a broken lighthouse before nightfall, if the kids of T*A*C*K are involved, a solution is only minutes away.


The kids of T*A*C*K aren't Kid Detectives. Though they help in the occasional police case, they rarely ever place themselves in any direct danger. Most of the situations they deal with are struggles that are slightly out of the ordinary, enough to frustrate the people around them, but can be solved with a combination of logic and plain old common sense.

T*A*C*K consists of the following agents:

  • Toria, short for Victoria. The series main protagonist and narrator. She wants to be a journalist one day, and the books are ostensibly her effort at keeping track of things in her little town like any good reporter would. She also loves sailing and boats. Has one younger sister, Holly.
  • Abby, Toria's best friend and T*A*C*K's Agent-On-Remote. Originally from Sandy Harbor, her family moved to another town. Her grandmother still lives in Sandy Harbor, so she occasionally pops up on visits, and even on one occasion asks her friends for assistance from afar. Only child.
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  • Chuck, the best athlete at Sandy Harbor elementary, and a steadfast and reliable friend. He's often their voice of practicality, reason, and common sense. He also loves animals, especially dogs. Has an adult sister, Kate.
  • Will, code name "K". Eccentric, but brilliant, the adults (and most kids) view him as something of a genius. Will's mind is always clicking away at the issue until he can find a solution. Has one little brother, Cyrus.


  1. T*A*C*K Secret Service (1982)
  2. T*A*C*K to the Rescue (1982)
  3. T*A*C*K Against Time (1983)
  4. T*A*C*K Into Danger (1983)


T*A*C*K provides examples of:

  • Acronym Confusion: Will was given the code name "K" because no one could figure out how to pronounce T*A*C*W.
  • Adults Are Useless: Averted. While the occasional adult is pretty dense (see: Chuck's mom and Sandy Harbor's P.E. teacher), most of them know enough to listen to the kids who have come up with clever and useful solutions to the problem at hand.
  • Aerith and Bob: Holly's pet ping-pong ball, Pongo, had a brother. Cyrus guesses the name as "Pingo", but it turns out to be Sam.
  • Angry Fist-Shake: Will says that bully Red Jameson gave him a friendly wave after Will outwitted him at the spelling bee, allowing him and Toria to make their escape. Toria makes a small correction: "Will, no one waves with their fist!"
  • Annoying Younger Sibling:
    • Holly, Toria's little sister, who taunts Toria by calling her "Vicki", teasing her big sister that she and Will are boyfriend and girlfriend, and using her cuteness to get what she wants.
    • Averted by Cyrus, Will's little brother, who is quiet and shy, but looks up to his big brother and desperately wants to be like him.
  • Academic Athlete: Chuck. He's not only good at sports, but he's a decent student and represents Sandy Harbor at the regional spelling bee.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Chuck's Great Pyrenees puppy, Duchess. Chuck's mother dislikes her (and dogs in general), though, and only let him have the pup because Chuck kept begging for her.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: An occasional solution, most notably used when Abby tricks one of her classmates into revealing that she wrote the poison pen letters to their teacher.
  • The Bully: Red Jameson, the meanest kid at Monroe Elementary School, who often makes life miserable for the Sandy Harbor kids when they are grouped together for occasions like spelling bees and field days. He even broke Will's leg by "accident."
  • Child Prodigy:
    • Averted; although some adults think he is this, Will is simply an observant child who just happens to think a little more logically than most kids (and some adults). He's also a terrible speller.
    • Funnily enough, Will himself thinks his cousin Nicholas is one in the making. Turns out Nicholas is a refreshingly normal three year-old.
  • Companion Cube: Holly has a pet ping-pong ball named Pongo. She had two, but a dog got hold of one and crushed him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Toria, especially towards people who seem a little dense or excitable.
  • Eureka Moment: Often. Occasionally, another character will make a reference to something that will trigger a "I just figured out the solution!" It's usually Toria who triggers Will, but occasionally other characters will trigger Will or Toria into figuring things out.
  • Everybody Did It: The solution to The Great Blueberry Pie Robbery. Everyone had a "little taste", to the point where all the "tasting" ruined the pie.
  • Frame-Up: Judge Sweet's daughters pull some destructive Halloween pranks, then try to blame them on two kids who happen to be wearing the same costumes. Unfortunately for them, they pick Will and Toria, who promptly prove their innocence.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Toria wants to be one of these one day, ideally sailing from place to place looking for stories.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Will always wears the same type of blue-and-green plaid shirt. According to Toria, he has a closet full of them.
  • Meaningful Name: Other than Will's code name of "K" making for a cleaner name for T*A*C*K, K means "switch to send" in Morse Code. note  Will's mind is constantly switching all over the place, helping him find solutions to the problems the group encounters.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Played with. When Abby came visiting from Pleasantville, she makes her complaint about how boring it is. When she asks Toria and Will if anything is going on Sandy Harbor, they claim nothing exciting is going on there. Except for the boat smugglers. And the incident at the spelling bee. And the sailing lessons they got as a reward...
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor: Not to an alarming degree, but Sandy Harbor and T*A*C*K have seen the occasional thief or smuggler make trouble at least once a book.
  • Stealth Pun: "Tacking" is a sailing term for turning a boat so the wind changes sides. Given Toria's fascination with sailing, it's probably not a coincidence.
  • Snooping Little Kid: Toria tries to listen on two men at the local soda shop after they take a strange interest in a comic book her little sister has just bought.

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