Review Blog

Sep 30 2020

Vincent and the grandest hotel on earth by Lisa Nicol

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Puffin Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781760890681.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. When Vincent's grandfather dies leaving him his shoe shine kit, he dreams of leaving the mediocre town of Barry where everyone works for the cat food company,  living under the constant smell of cat food.
Vincent takes his small kit to the railway station hoping to make some money just when Florence from the Grand Hotel arrives looking for someone to shine shoes at her establishment. She offers him the job, expecting him to turn up the very next morning to stay at the hotel before starting work. His family is overjoyed.
Staying the first night, Vincent is made aware of all the luxuries the place has to offer, as well as the staff it employs and the guests who visit. Each of the guest rooms is different, offering amazing opportunities, while every guest is given a small dog to have for the duration of their stay, a pocket dog.
The description of the palatial hotel is spectacular, drawing the reader in to its opulence, wondering why such a place exists and why Florence has been left by her globe trotting parents to run it by herself. The reader will question how the place runs and will laugh out loud at the descriptions of the odious hotel guests who demand attention from Florence: the family which has seen and done everything, the father threatening to sue, and the family where the son rules,  while several others are just as impoverished as Vincent and his family. All is very mysterious, but engrossing, magical and very funny, told with a wry sense of humour, revealing an acute observation of precocious families. At home, his family copes with Vincent's young brother, a non verbal hurricane who demands everyone's attention, Thom.
Vincent is desperate to find  out what will happen to his family, and his goes into one of the forbidden rooms. But in doing something he has been told not to, betrays his new friend, and foreseeing future incidents, puts him in a grave position.
A wonderful story full of imagination and wonder, Vincent's dilemma is very recognisable, doing something he was told not to do, so putting at risk his new found friendship.
Themes: Magic, Fantasy, Imagination, Friendship.
Fran Knight

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