Monday 23 April 2012

114. Floors by Patrick Carman

Floors by Patrick Carman
Published April 2012 Chicken House

From the publisher:
Welcome to the strangest hotel in the world! There's no place on earth like the Whippet Hotel. Every floor has its surprises and secrets. Guests are either mad or mysterious. And ducks are everywhere. If anyone knows the Whippet, it's Leo, the caretaker's son. But when he finds four strange boxes that lead him to hidden floors, he realises something extraordinary is going on. As the hotel begins to fall apart, Leo is on the ride of his life, without ever having to step outside.

The owner and creator of the Whippet hotel has gone missing, he's been gone for 100 days. Things are not the same without him there, and Leo and his Father's job is made difficult by the very cranky Ms Spark who is now in charge.  Until the day that Leo finds a purple wooden box with his name on it, inside is a message:

Floor and three and one half!
Strike the purple ball in the kitchen by the hall.
Three times fast. Duck!
And bring the ball.  You'll need it

So begins Leo's adventure in the Whippet Hotel.  With Betty (the most intelligent of the ducks) he makes his way through secret tunnels, floors between floors, and inside the amazing themed rooms of the Whippet.  Rooms like the Pinball Room, where furniture acts as bumpers and the whole room becomes a giant game of pinball, or the Robot Room, which is of course, filled with robots...and the most coveted room of all...the Cake Room.

While Leo is on his mysterious quest, we find out that across the street are men who seem to want the Whippet for themselves, and they have someone inside the hotel who is working for them...we, the readers, just don't know who.  Is it Ms Spark or one of the guests?  When this person moves on from spying to sabotaging the building, causing it to start falling apart, it looks like Leo and his father might lose the Whippet for good.

There is more than a little bit of Willy Wonka in this story.  Like Charlie and his chocolate factory, this crazy madcap world of puzzle room with an eight thousand piece puzzle the size if 12 pool tables, secret passages, important ducks, rooms with flying farm animals is Leos world, and he will do what has to be done to keep things running. 

As much as there is a lot of fun and excitement in this book there is also a lot of soul. For Leo and his father Clarence, the Whippet is their whole world  Leo's mother died.  Through this story we see the two finally coming to terms with their loss, and begin to live again.  This is partly with the help of the staff at the Whippet who are like one big family.

It is fun, crazy and thoughtful, with a bit of a mystery thrown in.

Who will like this book: Boys and girls age 9+
Read it if you like: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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