Madame Badobedah


Mabel feels like the rooms within The Mermaid Hotel are like her brothers and sisters. She considers-  ‘A room can be a lot like a person; it sees stories and parties and bored days and birthday cakes. And sometimes it sees sad things too.’

What of the person who has come to reside in Room 32?  Mum exclaims, ‘Good grief, all this…  this stuff!‘ Mabel decides that ‘Madame Badobedah’ is ‘a good name for this ‘growly voiced, suitcase- heavy, feather- clad guest- VILLAIN’. Thereafter, she decides that she ‘had better keep an eye out to see what the old sneak [is] up to.’ 

Mabel is an adventurer. She knows the barefoot paths alongside the sea outside her back door, and the hidden places of the The Mermaid Hotel’s rooms. She knows that ‘Madame Badobedah’ is not a guest but a resident with no plans to leave. Furthermore this is a resident with secrets. What might they be? What does she hide in her Cleopatra’s tomb of a dressing table? Why does her bed resemble Anne Bonny’s pirate ship? Could this villain be a fellow adventurer? Who is ‘Madame Badobedah’?

The winding, dazzling descriptions, lush vocabulary and endless sense of possibility captivate. Our delight and wonder are heightened by Lauren O’Hara’s nostalgic, nudging, pencil and watercolour pictures; there’s almost a Whitstable ’50s feeling.

‘Madame Badobedah‘ is a glorious picture book. Bookwagon recommends this title as a beautiful gift book, a treasure, a title to read, reread and keep.

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Madame Badobedah

Sophie Dahl, illustrated by Lauren O’Hara

(Walker Books)

Few guests at The Mermaid Hotel are as interesting as’Madame Badobedah’. She arrives at the bed and breakfast with ‘two dogs, two cats, a tortoise and twenty-three bags‘. Mabel is unimpressed by her manners and the fact she carries nothing of her luggage (including two big trunks, one dressing table, the twenty-three bags’ up the stairs!
However, Mabel knows the secret of Room 32, wherein this mystery woman will be guest. Mabel knows all the secrets and and saucers of The Mermaid Hotel. She feels like they’re her brothers and sisters. Therefore Mabel is compelled to spy on this new, mysterious inhabitant. Mabel comes to the conclusion that the hotel’s new guest must be a super villain, for all the evidence points that way! After all, this mystery woman pronounces ‘Darling’ as ‘Darlink’! Thereafter she has a banana eating tortoise and wears t’wo pairs of socks on each foot!
What is the new resident of The Mermaid Hotel doing while Mabel is working out her mysteries? Could she let Mabel aboard that they might adventure together? Moreover could she have tales to weave for Mabel? Somehow, this wonder and mystery is reminiscent of the curious stories of Heather Dyer and/ or Sylvia Bishop, such as The Bishop Girl.
Lauren O’Hara’s intricate painted pictures suggest a nostalgic taste of childhood adventure. They fit the tone and magical storytelling of this beautiful book. While Bookwagon is entranced by ‘Madame Badobedah‘, we suggest your readers will be too!


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