Madame Badobedah and the Old Bones has great potential to be your child’s favorite story. The feel is as if Mary Poppins and Pippi Longstocking met My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Sophie Dahl made a clever and interestingly classical feeling book. The story is sweet and funny as we follow a young girl who lives with her parents in the hotel they run, and is friends with an elderly lady, Madame Boadobedah, who also lives there. The girl, Mable, is narrating our story and tells us all the dirty secrets of the hotel. She is a seemingly precocious child who adores Madame Badobedah, even though the ol’ gal is cranky to the adults. And Madame B seems to adore Mable, too. Madame B has a few secrets up her sleeves and hiding in her dresser drawers, which our young Mable is most curious about. Maybe the stories Madame B tells are really tall tales, but just maybe we have more than meets the eyes.
The illustrations also have a classic inspiration tone to them. Lauren O’Hara, the illustrator, created works that look like they stepped out from the 1940’s. There is a simplicity to them that is not easy or simple, but they do not overwhelm, nor are not stuffy or “old fashioned.” They have a modern feeling and are not dated. They help highlight some points in the story, but never take it over.
The book is good for a read a chapter a night read aloud or for about second to fourth grade readers. There is at least one prequel, solo titleed Madam Badobedah, that might explain a few bumps in the narrative, but it is solid enough to stand on its own. Yet, this just means that you can read book one while waiting for April 2024 for Madame Badobedah and the Old Bones to arrive.