The Incredible Hotel

Frances Lincoln. Sept. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780711287914.
Gr 1-3–A visually appealing but somewhat flawed story about a hotel worker’s rise to success. Protagonist Stefan, who presents as Black, is a kitchen porter who wants to make cakes—but only chefs can do that, a fact of which Stefan is rudely reminded by the head chef when he tries to help her in the kitchen. While Stefan’s work seems insignificant, the hotel staff discover his importance when he is absent from work on the day of a huge party, and everything goes wrong. Some aspects of the plot don’t work; the happy ending seems abrupt and unrealistic given the rudeness Stefan experiences from the head chef. Furthermore, Stefan appears to be a child while everyone else is an adult, calling into question how he could possibly experience the success he does. Still, some children will overlook these details and appreciate the whimsy and visual pleasure of the story.
VERDICT The illustrations are transporting, perfectly capturing the magic of the hotel and the charm of a European town, and that may be enough for some readers. Recommended as a secondary purchase.

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