A fantasy series opener from the author of Carnegie Medal winner Maggot Moon (2013).
Betsy K. Glory lives on a small island with her ice-cream–making dad, who owns a cafe; her ocean-dwelling mermaid mum pays them weekly visits. When Betsy and Mr. Glory deliver his latest concoction to an ice-cream–fancying toad, the amphibian reveals that she is Princess Albee, self-exiled from her home on Gongalong Island after her giantess half sister, Princess Olaf, made a wish that turned her into a toad, a wish Albee is unable to overturn. While confirming Mum’s assertion that Gongalong Island’s berries, when made into ice cream, grant wishes, Albee says they must be picked during a blue moon. Sadly, no one knows how to turn the moon blue. Worse, Princess Olaf has fenced off most of their island for her own use, making it nearly impossible for the remaining resident Gongalongs (tiny humanoids) to escape. When Mr. Tiger and his oceangoing circus, which features Gongalong acrobats, arrive on Betsy’s island, he hatches a plan to free the Gongalongs and Princess Albee. With an elaborately silly plot and flimsy characterization, the story feels rudderless; it lacks thematic heft. A few moments sparkle, though, and the abundant, imaginative illustrations (executed in blue, to match the blue type) provide continuity and quirky charm. Human and human(oid) characters default to white.
Should please Anglophiles fond of cozy, English cultural references and nonstop whimsy. (Fantasy. 6-9)