Willy Wonka makes way for a new Dahl
Roald’s granddaughter Sophie keeps up author’s legacy with an illustrated children’s book of her own
WITH someone like Roald Dahl in the family it was perhaps inevitable his granddaughter Sophie would one day turn her hand to writing children’s books.
He was, after all, responsible for such fantastical characters as Willy Wonka, the Big Friendly Giant, Esio Trot and Miss Trunchbull
Now Sophie has created one of her own; Madame Badobedah, a mysterious old lady with a huge number of pets and possessions.
The fashion model, writer and TV presenter is currently in the process of completing her first children’s book, about a sparky young girl called Mabel who lives in a hotel by the sea and an imperious old lady – Madame Badobedah – who comes to stay, armed with a towering pile of bags and boxes and a host of exotic pets.
Mabel’s interest is piqued by the arrival of this new guest, particularly her trunks full of gold, and the pair form an unlikely friendship – leading to a series of fantastical adventures that, as Dahl puts it, “take the pair well s
Madame Badobedah, Dahl’s first book for young readers, following her forays into fiction and cookery books, will be published in October next year, with a series of original illustrations by Lauren O’Hara.
Dahl says she was thrilled when the rights were bought by Walker Books, publishers of work by acclaimed children’s writers Anthony Horowitz, Lucy Cousins and Polly Dunbar.
She said: “I feel honoured to o be sharing this company, and most of all feel that Madame Badobedah has found a great home.”
Dahl, now 41, started her career as a model, but quickly moved on to writ- ing, publishing the illustrated novella The Man With the Dancing Eyes in 2003. In 2007 she published her first novel, Playing with the Grown-ups, followed in 2009 by the bestselling cookbook Miss Dahl’s’ Voluptuous Delights.
The following year she wrote and presented The Delicious Miss Dahl series on BBC Two, followed by a documentary about Victorian domestic adviser Isabella Beeton on the same channel. She lives with her husband, the jazz musician Jamie Cullum, in Great Missenden, Bucks, where her grandfather lived and the site of a museum and story centre dedicated to his work. Gaining the rights her first children’s book is regarded as something of a coup within the publishing world.
Emma Lidbury, commissioning editor at Walker
“We’re thrilled to be publishing Madame to Badobedah. The unforgettable characters burst off the page and together with Lauren’s art, Madame Badobedah is set to be a picture book classic.”
Last week Dahl wrote on Twitter: “The secret I’ve been busting to tell: BRILLIANT Walker Books will be publishing my fififirst first children’s book, MadMa ame Badobedah, in the autumn of 2019. (And then, they’ll be publishing three more!) Lauren O’Hara, divine talent, and half of the @oharasisters is illustrating!” O’Hara works in Dublin alongside her writer sissi ter Natalia. Their first two books, Hortense Horten and the Shadow and an The Band Bandit Queen,
Sophie Dahl, left, and, above, with her mother Tessa and Roald; Madame Badobedah, right