Madame Badobedah

"Innocence meets experience in this story that’s as beautifully illustrated as it is told.”

i newspaper

A timeless story celebrating friendship and imagination, from an exciting new voice in children's literature.

Mabel lives with her parents in The Mermaid Hotel, by the sea. Mabel likes to keep an eye on the comings and goings of all the guests. Then one day a particularly in-ter-est-ing old lady comes to stay. There is something very suspicious about her, with her growly voice and her heavy trunks and her beady-eyed tortoise. And why does no one know her REAL name? There can only be one answer, Mabel decides … this guest is a SUPERVILLAIN. But even supervillains have a soft side, and as an unlikely friendship grows between the pair, their fantastical exploits take them well beyond the corridors of their seaside home.

“This book celebrates affection across generations and the acceptance of outsiders. Lauren O’Hara’s pictures have the naivety of seaside art, and Dahl’s prose is considered and surprising.”

The Sunday Times, top children’s books of 2019

“Any imaginative child will warm to this funny, touching story of lonely only child Mabel. Beautifully illustrated, this is a joyous debut from Roald Dahl’s granddaughter.”

The Daily Mail, Best Children’s Books of the Year

“It was a year full of fantastic fiction. Sophie Dahl’s grandfather would have loved the adventurous girl at the heart of her debut children’s book, Madame Badobedah.”

The Guardian, best books of 2019

“…this quirky, imaginative story is a delight… Vividly illustrated, this is a witty and gently moving debut.”

The Daily Mail

“Dahl’s granddaughter makes her children’s debut with this gentle tale…
“I really hate bitter books, and bitter people,” Sophie Dahl has said. There is no bitterness here, and nothing too revolting – but there is plenty of charm.”

The Daily Telegraph

“…visit a seaside B&B in Sophie Dahl’s Madame Badobedah (Walker), illustrated with airy, light-hearted charm by Lauren O’Hara. Mettlesome Mabel encounters a suspicious guest: a flamboyant old lady with piles of fascinating luggage, toffee-apple-red hair and rude, secretive manners. Is she right to guess that Madam Badobedah is a super-villain? This longer-form picture book, tapping astutely into the imaginative life of an adventurous child, is lovely both to read and to listen to.”

The Guardian

“…one of 2019’s most exciting and imaginative picture books… Sophie Dahl’s debut for children is wonderfully eccentric and imaginative, and also tells a powerful tale of friendship… The pictures are also a pure delight.”

The Sun

“…Dahl junior proves she has a playful and beguiling voice… Pairing Dahl with O’Hara is a masterstroke. Her painterly images are colourful and chic but mysterious, just like Madame Badobedah, whose life story, refreshingly, is never fully revealed.”

The Observer

“Sophie Dahl’s Madame Badobedah, with glorious watercolour illustrations from Lauren O’Hara, is full of exotic detail, as donkey-loving Mabel spies on the most mysterious resident at the Mermaid Hotel.”

The Irish Times

“…warm-hearted and almost poetic… Dahl’s engaging style – teamed with Lauren O’Hara’s gorgeous illustrations – make it a book to remember.”

The Press Association

“A stylish and sophisticated story for young readers to treasure.”

Jacqueline Wilson

“This book is a thing of wonder.”

David Walliams


Katherine Rundell, author of Rooftoppers

“It is a splendidly entertaining story, just right for younger readers who are launching out into a larger text, and Lauren O’Hara has responded to it with huge dash and imagination.”

Shirley Hughes

“This book is one of those books you dreamt of reading as a child.That you wished you could write as an adult. One that you’re so glad exists so your own child can read. It’s a proper children’s book.”

Laura Dockrill, author of Darcy Burdock and Angry Cookie

“Perfect for those who like a whimsical adventure, with beautiful pictures by Lauren O’Hara.”

Konnie Huq,The Guardian – Christmas book clinic special

“Swashbuckling and mysterious… I can’t recommend it enough as a gift for a godchild or a niece or nephew, it’s a beautiful, beautiful kids’ book and I hope to read lots more of Madame Badobedah.”

Dolly Alderton,The High Low Podcast

“Written and illustrated with heaps of wit, charm and heart, Madame Badobedah manages to feel both fresh and classic at the same time.”

Anna James, author of the Pages & Co series

“A delightful and beautiful exploration of the unlikely intergenerational friendship that develops between two remarkable female leads.This peek through the keyhole will leave you itching to join Mabel and her new friend on further adventures and to explore more of Dahl’s fresh and quirky imaginative style.”

Jess French

Buy Madame Badobedah