Young Leo and his father are the maintenance crew for The Whippet, an eccentrically designed hotel full of surprises. Not only are the rooms oddly themed (the cake room, the cave room, the room that's a giant pinball machine), and not only is there a duck pond on the roof, there are hidden floors. With its amusement-ride elevators, building-high slides, and an eclectic complement of live-in guests, it's pretty much paradise for a boy. There are only two problems: Leo's father is still mourning his mother and, a more immediate threat, the hotel's owner has disappeared and the manager is aiding outsiders in a hostile takeover.
If he is to save his home, Leo has to figure out a series of odd clues, find unexpected levels to the hotel, and beat a series of strange, and sometimes dangerous, challenges sent through a series of mysterious boxes. He enlists the help of the new doorman, the housekeeper's son, and the two become fast friends as they fight for their home. He's an engaging character, and the story of his learning to make friends and grow is part of the fun.
The breakout star for me was the hotel. The Whippet is a wonderful strange building. Although not sentient in its own right, it was designed by a truly zany inventor and reflects his personality. It is inhabited by designer robots like Blop, a little robot who was designed to socialize and desperately wants to, but turns out to annoy his audience who routinely asks him to be quiet. Probably the person who knows it best is the duck, Betty, who leads her flock, and sometimes Leo, through the chaos.
I am pleased that there actually did turn out to be a reason behind the zany challenges and the cryptic clues. I am growing increasingly impatient with cryptic clues that are cryptic only for the sake of complicating matters rather than because anyone has any reason to phrase them oddly, so this was a plus for me. Other readers may be less concerned about this.
Floors isn't Deep Literature, it's pure, whimsical fun. I recommend it for light reading or for leaving casually lying about for kids (or adults) to stumble upon.
Reminder: Floors II: 3 Below is already out and Floors III: The Field of Whacky Inventions comes out next month, September 2013.
The Book Zone (For Boys)
Good Books and Good Wine
The Book Swarm
Patrick Carman's home page.
Floors on Amazon
I listened to and enjoyed the audio version, read by Jesse Bernstein (Hurray for Downloadable audio books at the library!)
Got a review I should link to? Another link I should add to the list? Contact me or leave a note in the comments and let me know.