Thursday, October 31, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Floors, by Patrick Carman, 261 pages.
Welcome to the very weird, very mysterious, and thoroughly wonderful Whippet Hotel!
Every floor of the old building, where ten-year-old Leo Fillmore helps his father who is the caretaker, contains surprises and secrets. The building has an unusual design, and each room has a different theme. For example, the Pinball Room functions like a giant pinball machine. There is a Robot Room, a Room of Ponds and Caves, and a Duck Elevator.
The hotel’s guests are also quirky, such as the paranoid Captain Rickenbacker, the obsessive author Theodore Bump, and the colony of pumpernickel bread-loving ducks living on the roof.
Now, it appears that someone is trying to sabotage the hotel. Unexpected problems with the building are suddenly popping up everywhere. Merganzer Whippet, the hotel’s eccentric owner and architect, has disappeared. No one has seen or heard from him for a hundred days - and the mean manager, Ms Sparks, is in charge.
One day Leo discovers a mysterious box which proves to be the first of four containing cryptic clues to the hotel’s secrets and Mr. Whippet’s whereabouts. Leo finds himself involved in a mystery which must be solved – before it’s too late.
In following the clues, he encounters hidden floors, strange puzzles, fantastical inventions, nefarious characters, and plenty of surprises - as well as the answers he needs.  
Ten-year-old Leo is an appealing, likeable protagonist, and readers will also enjoy the sequel to this imaginative story, entitled 3 Below. Both books would be perfect for fans of Lemony Snickett and Roald Dahl books.

** Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years.

The Mystery of the Phantom Lights by Helen Moss, 191 pages
“They circled round and round, then hovered in one spot, shimmering and flashing, lighting up the shreds of cloud that floated in front of them with shades of blood red and ghostly green. Below them, another light flickered on and off and darted about.”
While camping on the moors above Castle Key, Jack sees mysterious lights floating in the air during the night. He is immediately intrigued. Could the explanation be an alien invasion?
Other people in the community have also witnessed the lights, but they have different explanations, including smugglers, ghosts or restless spirits.
Determined to find the true explanation, Jack launches “Operation Phantom Lights” with his friends – Scott and Emily (and Drift, the dog).
The four have solved other mysteries in the past, but this proves to the trickiest and most dangerous yet, involving a friend in trouble, diamond smuggling, a gang of ruthless thieves, kidnappings…. and a safe ending.
Other titles in this appealing, suspenseful series, The Adventure Island Books, include The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost, The Mystery of the Vanishing Skeleton, and the Mystery of the Whistling Caves

** Recommended for ages 8 to 10 years. 

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on October 31, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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