Review Blog

Jul 30 2019

Vincent and the Grandest Hotel on Earth by Lisa Nicol

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Puffin Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781760890681.
(Age: 9-13) Highly recommended. Themes: Hotels, Hopes and dreams, Friendship, Family, Fantasy. Vincent is the epitome of ordinary and yet his ordinary life is transformed in a moment the first time he uses his late Grandfather's shoe-shine equipment and then is offered a job that goes beyond his wildest dreams. The Grandest Hotel on Earth opens up possibilities, friendship opportunities and reveals all sorts of solutions to the problems and concerns of the Hotel's patrons, and perhaps even Vincent's problems too. The hope it offers to Vincent is of a reprieve from his own family concerns. Since the arrival of his younger brother their world has been battered with the distress of a child with tantrum-wielding, egg-eating and non-verbal chaos, and the whole family is weighted with the burden. The Hotel itself is anything but ordinary. The rooms are magical in the way they meet the needs of those who stay (reminiscent of the worlds of Disneyland and The magic faraway tree, and the rooms are never the same for each visitor) and the staff are equally restorative in their approach, as is the theme-park-like experience. It is indeed the Grandest Hotel! The wonders of the experience go beyond ordinary, but Vincent may have created a problem by being too curious and a friendship may be at risk.
This book is delightful, with magical moments and human restoration, and the development of the wonderful young boy, Vincent, and his growing friendship with the young girl left in charge of her family's Hotel. This book explores the transformation of ordinary into extraordinary and reveals some wonderful quirky characters and experiences. The hint of a 'co-writer' mentioned in the early part of the book, is a nod to the inspiration for the author Lisa Nicol and his input is revealed in a Post-word at the end of the book. This book is funny in a subtle, understated way, but there is also a poignant reminder that not all of life is easy. The Hotel, though, seems to have a solution, and reading this book will be uplifting and rewarding for young readers and they too will want to stay at The Grandest Hotel on Earth. Teacher's notes are available.
Carolyn Hull

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