Children's books: New from Sophie Dahl, Jamie Littler and Sally Gardner

Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl, illustrated by Lauren O'Hara

Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl, illustrated by Lauren O'Hara is published in hardback by Walker Books, priced £12.99 (ebook £7.96)

TELLING enthralling stories is clearly in the blood for Sophie Dahl, whose first foray into children's books sees her follow in the footsteps of her grandfather. But where Roald Dahl made an artform out of creating characters that delight and disgust in equal measure, former model Sophie sets herself apart with warm-hearted and almost poetic prose. In her children's debut, she introduces the fabulous Madame Badobedah – a mysterious old lady and guest of The Mermaid Hotel, who captures the interest of the seaside bed and breakfast's young resident Mabel. Determined that she is a super villain, Mabel sets out to spy on the hotel's newest guest, who arrives with two dogs, two cats, a tortoise, 23 bags and a dressing table. As an unlikely friendship develops, they soon embark on exciting adventures by the sea. It may not be an action-packed tale, but Dahl's engaging style – teamed with Lauren O'Hara's gorgeous and perfectly-suited illustrations – make it a book to remember.


Holly Williams

Frostheart by Jamie Littler is published in paperback by Puffin Books, priced £7.99 (ebook £3.99)

SET in the future, with our own world (the 'World Before') lying ruined beneath a frozen landscape, Ash awaits his parents' return. In the meantime, he lives in the Fira stronghold, under the watchful eye of his grumpy guardian, the yeti Tobu. Hungry monsters (Leviathans) surf the snow just beyond the stronghold edges. Ash has the gift of Song Weave – the ability to sing to the Leviathans and to hear their own songs in return. But the Fira regard the gift as a curse, and Ash is soon exiled. Grabbing the opportunity to join the crew of a Pathfinder boat, Ash embarks on a series of adventures, filled with plenty of engaging characters, lessons of friendship, and even a treasure hunt of sorts. Award-winning author and illustrator Jamie Littler has crafted a compelling and magical world for young readers (recommended ages 8-12). Although fantasy, it shouldn't prove too challenging for those unfamiliar with the genre. Some of the language – and a few of the concepts – are a little stretching, but together with the illustrations and the heartwarming theme of friendship, this first instalment of the upcoming trilogy is sure to captivate.


Nicole Whitton

Invisible In A Bright Light by Sally Gardner is published in hardback by Head of Zeus, priced £10.99

In 1870, in a city eerily like Copenhagen, 11-year-old Celeste is living in the Royal Opera House, where everyone thinks she is an orphaned dancer called Maria. After a chandelier commemorating a lost ship mysteriously falls and smashes to smithereens, she is forced to play a dangerous game with a man in an emerald suit to save many lives – but he won't tell her the rules of the Reckoning... Award-winning English children's author Sally Gardner returns to the eight to 12-year-old market for the first time since I, Coriander in 2005. Riddles, sailors' myths and magic underpin the complicated plot, which confounds explanation and has rather too many unsatisfactory reveals. This does a disservice to the delightful characters, from the opera diva Sabina Petrova and her daughter Hildegard, to the blind piano tuner Albert Ross and clown Quigley. If younger readers can get carried away with the atmosphere and not scrutinise the details, it's a far more enjoyable story.


Natalie Bowen

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