Families and other animals
Leigh Hobbs has won thousands of hearts with his most famous creations, Horrible Harriet and Old Tom. Time will tell if Mr Badger, the special events manager in a grand London hotel, will have the same enduring success. As he is thoroughly decent, generous, responsible, and hard-working, it is up to minor characters to provide the necessary nastiness. In Mr Badger and the Big Surprise (Allen & Unwin, $13.99 pb, 70 pp, 9781742374178), Sylvia Smothers-Carruthers, the spoilt niece of the hotel manager, is celebrating her seventh birthday in the grand ballroom. Mr Badger copes admirably with all that goes wrong, including the tantrums of the birthday girl and the spectacular destruction of her multi-layered cake. Everybody at the hotel seems to have forgotten that it is also Mr Badger’s birthday. Or have they?