by Patrick Carman
First sentence: “Merganzer Whippet was an impulsive young man of fifteen when he raced into his father’s room just in time to hear these fateful words.”
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Leo Fillmore lives and works with his father in the most amazing place: the Whippet Hotel. It’s small, exclusive, and very, very wild (and weird). All the rooms are themed: from the Cake Room, to the Pinball Room, to the Caves and Ponds Room; it’s a kid’s dream (and possibly a maintenance man’s nightmare) to live in a place like this, even if it is only in the basement.
Except Merganzer Whippet, the owner, has disappeared, been gone for more than 100 days, and the hotel is falling apart. Then, a small purple box arrives for Leo, and he finds out that saving the hotel is up to him, his new friend, and a duck named Betty. They’re in for some wild (and weird) adventures, as they figure out who is sabotaging the hotel (because it’s just not falling apart on its own) and save it from being sold to developers.
Part mystery, part buddy novel, part adventure story, this quirky little book has a lot going for it. Carman’s writing is accessible without being overly simplistic, and the whole whimsical aura gives it a very carnival-like feel. There’s a couple of nice twists and turns throughout the book, and the story wraps up quite nicely. Which leads me to my only concern: this one is billed as Book 1, and I have no idea where the story could go in book 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5). It’s a self-contained story, one that is quite entertaining and very sweet, and doesn’t need a sequel. At all.
Sometimes children’s publishing these days frustrates me. In spite of that, the book is more than worth reading.