Just Imagine

Mr Tiger, Betsy and the Sea Dragon

Authored by Sally Gardner
Illustrated by Nick Maland
Published by Zephyr

This is the second in a series of books about a young girl called Betsy who lives on an island that’s been left off the map of the world. In this particular adventure, she has to save a stolen sea-dragon egg from the clutches of a pesky set of pirates. The partnership between the words and illustrations is a profound and balanced one and certainly helps the reader keep track of an often frantic story.

The story starts with what appears to be two independent storylines, but over time these narratives intertwine and crash together in a crescendoed finale. The first is Betsy’s quest to ensure that an annual visit to the island from the local sea-dragon goes according to plan. The other is about a young pastry chef called Septimus who, stuck on a pirate ship, must try to thwart the efforts of the ship’s captain, Mr. Calico Kettle, to steal this valuable egg. Betsy’s desire is to ensure the safekeeping of the egg so that the village can receive a golden apple from an orchard under the sea for its trouble. However, this gold apple is also the apple of Captain Kettle’s eye, and so trouble brews on the sea’s horizon.

While the themes and characters will certainly draw younger readers to the book, the continued switching of storylines coupled with the limitless introduction of character may result in at least some of these young readers finding it too challenging to keep up with as an independent read. However, the children in your class who love fast-paced adventure stories involving dragons, pirates, mermaids, talking tigers and believable child characters could certainly find themselves more than satisfied.