Madame Badobedah

Sophie Dahl, illus. by Lauren O’Hara. Walker Books US, $18.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1022-4
Mabel’s parents run the Mermaid Hotel, and she knows all the building’s secrets: “I don’t have brothers and sisters; I have rooms,” she explains. When a mysterious guest arrives, Mabel wants to know all her secrets, too. The newcomer, a sharp-tongued elderly lady with a feather boa, has many pets and a mountain of luggage, and she calls everyone “darlink.” She is, Mabel concludes, a villainess whom she nicknames Madame Badobedah. The girl sets up a spy operation to find out the truth about the enigmatic figure—until her ruse is exposed. Villainess or no, Madame Badobedah makes excellent company. “That bed of mine is a pirate ship,” she tells Mabel. “I call it the Not-So-Jolly Roger. Shall we set sail, Captain Mabel?” Sparky dialogue in Dahl’s children’s debut charms; watercolor vignettes and spreads by O’Hara (Hortense and the Shadow) fuse spun-sugar whimsy with theatrical drama (the Not-So-Jolly Roger surges across the waves toward the reader, with Madame Badobedah at the helm). Soon Mabel feels that she can share the Mermaid Hotel’s best secret with her. Dahl’s yarn unspools with impressive assurance as two strong female characters grapple with each other, and both emerge victorious. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 03/05/2020
Release date: 04/14/2020
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-0-6556-4029-5
MP3 CD - 978-0-6556-4057-8
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