Review: Vincent and the Grandest Hotel On Earth
If you want that eat-all-the-icecream-you-want-super-satisfied feeling, read this exceedingly grand book. Chock-a-block filled with joie de vivre, llamas and teeny tiny dogs, this is a rollicking tale of following your heart's desire, grabbing opportunity by the horns and pure exuberant fun.
Look between the witty one-liners and fabulously named rooms of the Grandest Hotel on Earth, though and you'll find a story imbued with heart promoting the courage to dream.
Vincent is ordinary and often overlooked until the day not-so-ordinary, Florence Wainwright-Cunningham III invites him to her family's hotel establishment high in the Mabombo Ranges. Armed with nothing but his toothbrush and his grandfather's fantastical shoe-cleaning box, Vincent embarks on a journey of marvellous discovery.
Although miles out of his comfort zone, Vincent soon adapts to the grandeur and unbelievable improbabilities the Hotel presents. He learns to love the art of shoe shining and repair which is handy since he is offered full time employment in this role. Best of all, Vincent finds a friendship deep and true with Florence.
Yet the Grandest Hotel on Earth is not just a collection of marvellous rooms, Disneyland-scapes and endlessly patient staff, cue Rupert the Concierge. It's like a sort of spectacular car-wash where disgruntled guests go in stained and stressed by their worlds and come out miraculously cleansed of the multitude of minutiae worries that plagued them. Sad and depressed souls find renewed sparkle. Stressed ones encounter more relaxed outlooks. Everyone leaves with 'a bit of grand.'
But among all these amazing transformations, Vincent is anxious to find a solution for his own frustrations; living in a family with his younger uber dependant brother, Thom. It's this desperate drive to reach enlightenment that ultimately sends Vincent into places he wishes he'd never opened the door to.
Nicol has woven a witty fantastical dialogue around one boy's rise above the mire that is speckled with believable whimsy; The Grandest Hotel on Earth could really be real...like Shangri-la...Incredulity is balanced beautifully with rippling emotions; the trauma of losing a best friend, the anguish of living beside a sibling with special needs, the guilt of going too far. It's Lemony Snicket meets Rold Dahl - in Disneyland.
Primary aged readers will enjoy the musical-shoed, chocolate-fountain-fantasia grandness of Vincent's story for like all grand experiences (and ice cream), they'll never want it to end. I certainly didn't.
Title: Vincent and the Grandest Hotel on Earth
Author: Lisa Nicol
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $16.99
Publication Date: July 2019
For ages: 8 – 14
Type: Middle Grade Fiction
Buy the Book: Penguin Random House, Booktopia, Readings