Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl & Lauren O’Hara
Mabel lives at The Mermaid Hotel, which her parents manage. She is an imaginative ‘adventurer’ who often goes down to the nearby sea, the same sea Madame Badobedah travelled across when she was a young woman to escape war. Now, Madame Badobedah is old, bossy and, naturally, a jewel thief (according to Mabel!).
Madame Badobedah arrives one day with an imperious manner, a lot of luggage, two dogs, two cats, a tortoise and a lot of jewels. So Mabel switches from adventurer to spy, of course!
This is a delicious story with a fanciful little girl who has a charming way of telling her tale, a lonely lady and an unlikely friendship that blossoms with shared fantasies, secrets respected and eccentricities admired. The illustrations are perfect and I loved every page of this longer form picture book. For ages 4–8.