Sally Gardner, the enormously creative author of I, Coriander, chucks magic, a quest and scoopfuls of jeopardy into the first book in her new series. It’s also got dyslexia-friendly type, and Nick Maland’s illustrations add to the fun...Cripes, if that isn’t delightfully baffling enough it also appears, in a jolly meta move, that the alphabet is writing this story, not Gardner. In which case bravo to all 26 letters; I look forward to their next dance.
Sally Gardner’s tale unfolds with all the beautiful illogicality of a dream, whimsical but staying the right side of twee, and buoyed along by Nick Maland’s jaunty, intricately cross-hatched illustrations.
This is an enchanting story, in which elements of traditional fairy tale verge on the surreal (in what must count as one of literature's more eccentric frame narrations, the story is told by "all the letters of the alphabet" who live on the island). But Gardner's skill is to contain even her wildest ideas within a meticulous plot. "You and I have many more adventures ahead of us," Mr Tiger tells Betsy at the end of the story – which is good news for Gardner's fans.