Sally Gardner, Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Blue Moon

Zephyr, 2018, ISBN 978-178669-717-2

Betsy lives on an island that has been left off the map of the world with her father, ice cream maker extraordinaire Mr Glory. Her mother Myrtle is a mermaid who lives under the sea but visits often. They are all happy, although when her dad invents a new ice cream flavour that her mother says tastes of delicious wishes Betsy thinks a spare wish would come in useful. Myrtle talks about an island where Gongalong bushes grow. According to legend if the fruit was made into ice cream just one scoop would make wishes come true. Soon Betsy discovers that the island has come under the tyrannical regime of a malevolent princess who has turned her sister into a toad, and that things will only change if the Gongalong berries can be harvested and made into ice cream. But the berries only ripen under a blue moon, and blue moons happen 'sometime never'. Thankfully the mysterious Mr Tiger appears with his amazing circus. Can he and Betsy, along with his fabulous band of Gongalong acrobats, a very timid giant, and Mr Glory and Myrtle somehow make the moon blue and save the day?

Gardner peppers her fairy tale with jokes and puns. Betsy's mum and dad - a mermaid and a human, remember - agree to 'a parting of the waves'; 'Wait a minnow', says Myrtle. (Though a few references will go above most children's heads, like the moon's question to Mr Tiger: 'Are you about to say, one small step for a Gongalong and one mighty step for tiger paws?') Many readers will enjoy the fast-moving plot and the cast of intriguing characters. Nick Maland's attractive illustrationshelp bring the story to life. The book is printed in blue Dyslexie font and with well-spaced lines to make it easy to read for dyslexics and others. Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Blue Moon is the first in what is likely to be a popular series.