Monday, 22 August 2011

review: Floors

by Patrick Carman
Scholastic Press, September 2011
middle-grade fantasy
ARC received from publisher (thank you!)

It's been a hundred days since Merganzer D. Whippet, builder of the fabulously wacky Whippet Hotel, disappeared and left Leo Fillmore and his father Clarence, the maintenance men, to take care of the Whippet's increasing demands. But the purple box that appeared in the duck elevator isn't anything Leo's seen before -- and he's seen a lot in the unpredictable hotel. Soon he's on a wild trail of clues through floors he never knew existed, and with a few friends, allies and ducks at his sides, Leo will have to figure out the secrets of the Whippet -- the only home he's known -- before he loses it forever.
The cover:

Ducks! Ducks! Ohmygoggles, they're so cute. *huggles cover* This illustrator has captured the quirky atmosphere of the hotel, with the detailing of the old-fashioned elevator and the ducks. The ducks! Did I mention the ducks yet?

The book:

These kind of omniscient-POV, anazingly, crazily imaginative middle-grade fantasies (and they're always MG. Always. Don't even try to argue) rock my world. The Pinball Room, for example: the floor is slanted, the flippers are couches and the balls are as big as bowling balls. Then there's the Cake Room, which always needs A/C or else there'll be a "frosting disaster". So. Awesome.

The omniscient point of view is extremely helpful in developing the protagonist and supporting characters. Leo, a curious, adventurous and sometimes easily frustrated boy, is a real, flawed boy; Remi, the bell boy, sparkles with his enthusiasm and over-eagerness, and the way the two boys learn from each other is so endearing. The rest of the Whippet staff and even the rich guests grow on the reader just as easily, save for Ms. Sparks, perhaps. Her shades of evil are painted a little too dark -- a caricature of a villain.

Floors doesn't lack for touching moments, though the first comes a little too early to make a real impact. The imagination infused in the world-building -- because the Whippet Hotel really is a world of its own -- is practically genius. Seriously, it's like Charlie & the Chocolate Factory meets Hotel for Dogs (only for ducks!).

And the epic reveal at the end, of identities and true homes and families, is exactly in keeping with the rest of the novel -- fabulous, touching and immensely satisfying all at the same time.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5