Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 01 Nov 2023

Betty and the Mysterious Visitor by Anne Twist, Illustrated by Emily Sutton

Betty and the Mysterious Visitor is Anne Twist’s debut children’s book and here she’s teamed-up with the wonderful Emily Sutton to produce a big, generous picture book full of nostalgic charm.

Betty loves spending her summer holidays with her Grandma in her cottage in the village of Wobbley Bottom. Grandma’s cottage has a big garden that is her pride and joy, full of wild flowers, trees and ‘the greenest grass you’ve ever seen’. There’s also carefully cultivated beds of soft fruit – raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, gooseberries – which Grandma uses to make all kinds of jam to sell at market.

Then disaster! One morning, on market day, Betty awakes to find that something terrible has happened to the beloved garden:

“The grass was a mess, a higgle and puff. What once had been smooth was now muddy and rough.”

What could have caused all this mayhem? That night, following a successful day at the market, Betty watches the garden from her window and is surprised to see a mysterious creature poking its nose under the fence, only to disappear as quickly as it had come.

When she tells Grandma what she’s seen, the answer becomes clear – they are being visited by a badger. And the badger won’t stop coming back until everything has been eaten.

What on Earth can they do to stop these visits? Well, Betty turns out to be an inventive problem-solver and you’ll enjoy her solution to this conundrum.

Clearly, I’m not going to tell you how Betty and Grandma deal with their unwanted visitor because you’ll want to see that for yourself and I don’t want to spoil the fun.

Emily Sutton’s illustrations are a real treat – full of colour and detail and demonstrating her trademark love of nature. As an illustrator she has acknowledged the influence of those mid-century giants of the form - Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious – and, here, their influence is clear to see. But Sutton’s work isn’t derivative, she uses the influences creatively to give her work a distinctive presence on the page. It’s a feast for the eyes.

Published by Walker Books, you will be able to get a copy from your local independent bookshop – who will, of course, be happy to order you a copy if they don’t have it on their shelves.


Terry Potter

November 2023