A selection of beautiful children’s fiction and non-fiction titles on the review docket today! Thanks to the kind friends at Penguin Random House Canada, I have had the great pleasure of taking a look at the following: Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl and Lauren O’Hara; Peter H. Reynolds’ Make Your Mark Gallery: A Coloring Book-ish; and last but not least, Natalie Labarre’s Incredible Jobs You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of. Happy reading, everyone!
Author Sophie Dahl teams up with illustrator Lauren O’Hara (The Bandit Queen, with sister Natalia O’Hara) for the entrancing and supremely one-of-a-kind story Madame Badobedah. A picture book, illustrated chapter book, mystery and fable all rolled into one, the marvelous Madame Badobedah is a wonderfully vivid story. Our narrator, young Mabel, is an only child who is a resident (her choice of words) at her parents’ bed and breakfast, The Mermaid Hotel. Mabel proceeds to tell readers about the “most interesting guest” the hotel ever had: Madame Badobedah -“rhymes with ooooh la la”- “old, old, old…with red lips…two dogs, two cats, a tortoise, and twenty-three bags”. Mabel does not approve or like the red-haired Madame Badobedah upon first encounter and takes it upon herself to spy on the new guest. Convinced of bad secrets, possible criminal activity involving jewelry theft and villainy, Mabel goes beyond spying at a distance and starts to investigate directly into the secretive life of Madame Badobedah by… spending time with her. As Mabel gets to know the supposed supervillain, a life story unveils itself, one as audacious and riveting as it is bittersweet. Dahl captures Mabel’s voice in a narrative that is bright, perfectly, slightly impudent, and captivating start to end, with the world of Mabel, the Mermaid Hotel, and the grand Madame Badobedah incredibly brought to life by Lauren O’Hara’s glorious watercolour illustrations. A slightly magical and profound read that may surprise your heart, Madame Badodebah is a jewel of a story.
Bestselling author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, the creator behind much-loved picture books Ish, The Dot, and Sky Color brings kids a fabulous opportunity for creativity and fun with the coloring book Make Your Mark Gallery: A Coloring Book-ish. An introduction from the author-illustrator states: “This book is your gallery. Fill the empty frames with your art …Let your creativity flow…Be sure to sign the back of each page, then tear it out and share…with the world!”. This is a neatly organized and compact softcover book: each colouring page is perforated- making for clean and easy page removal- with space for writing down Artist, Date, and Title of Work on the back. Some of the pages contain suggestions or “ishful ideas” for kids to start their ideas and art, such as ‘Cloud-ish’, or ‘Tiger-ish’; some pages have squiggles or semi-started images for kids to continue as they wish; while other pages have totally blank frames to go wherever your imagination and creativity and instrument of choice take you! Sure to appeal to readers and young artists already familiar with Peter H. Reynolds’ lovely work, this is also an accessible and encouraging colouring book for any interested kids (or younger teens) to try.
Terrifically fun and interesting, illustrator and animator Natalie Labarre‘s Incredible Jobs You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of makes for solidly entertaining (and, dare I say, inspiring!) non-fiction reading. In the opening spread featuring “The Great Hall of Jobs”, readers see “the classics” like teacher, chef, doctor, lawyer, farmer, etc. But did you know that there is a whole world of jobs outside the expected or usual? Did you know that you can become a dinosaur duster when you grow up? Or become something as cool-sounding as a cryptozoologist? What about becoming a water slide tester, or a chief sniffer at NASA?! The oversize format of the book lends itself to easy browsing, and the jobs are casually organized in categories. Each job highlighted is concisely described and attached to an illustrated vignette; along with the descriptions, there are also a few on-topic side games like seek and find and matching. For readers who enjoy poring over series such as National Geographic Kids Weird But True series, are interested in reading non-fiction beyond traditional ‘community helper’ books, or for those readers who generally enjoy reading “browseable non-fiction“, Incredible Jobs You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of makes for very cool informative reading.
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada and imprints Candlewick Press and Nosy Crow in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Make Your Mark Gallery: A Coloring Book-ish is set for publication September 1, 2020 from Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House Canada. Other titles have been published and are currently available.