The third in this magical series by Sally Gardner this delightful book is a treat for young readers. The story is told with bags of humour and a touch of the ridiculous and this, combined with the wonderful illustrations by Nick Maland throughout, results in a perfect package for newly confident readers. The fact that it is printed in blue ink in Dyslexie, a font designed to make reading easier and more fun, ensures that Betsy and Mr Tiger’s adventures can be enjoyed by a wider audience.
“We, the alphabet, are a family of letters. It is, we agree, a rather large family. Nevertheless, we muddle along without too many hiccups. We see ourselves as magicians of words. We sprinkle spells, make up stories, tell tall tales, spin yarns into a fabric of fables.”
So begins this adventure into a magical world of talking tigers, mermaids, shipwrecks, treasure and copious amounts of ice cream. When Sally Gardner is the magician weaving words into tales to enchant children we know that we are entering a world of vivid imagination and Betsy’s adventures have a surreal feel to them. Yet the magic is grounded by an ingenious plot and believable relationships between the quirky characters. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read and I had somehow missed the first two books in the series but now want to put that right.
In this story we discover that all is not well in the underwater world of Mermaid City. Sea Pig’s prized seahorse, Pudding Pie, has gone missing and the cantankerous octopus is implicated in the disappearance. Betsy and her friend Mr Tiger must go to the rescue in their submarine and search for a happy ending for everyone. All does not go smoothly for our adventurers and the intrepid and determined Betsy finds herself having to cope alone at times and rises to the challenge magnificently. There is a reassuring wisdom about Mr Tiger who has touch of the wise professor about him as he conducts himself with dignity even when wearing a deep sea diving suit.
The wonderful illustrations by Nick Maland including several double page spreads add greatly to the appeal and also break up the text in a manner that makes the book look less overwhelming for children who have not yet developed reading stamina. I think children would have a sense of achievement and satisfaction on completion of this happy story. This would also be a treat to read aloud either at home or in the classroom. Highly recommended.
I should like to thank the publishers Zephyr Books for providing my review copy.
Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Golden Seahorse is available to purchase in all good bookshops or online
If you are looking for a book by Sally Gardner suitable for older children I would recommend Invisible in a Bright Light another story with a fairy tale quality.