Series Review: Floors

Floors by Patrick Carman. 2011. 9780545255196. Gr 4-7.

It can sometimes be overwhelming trying to pick books to highlight here on the Books in Bloom blog.  There are so many good titles out there that are just waiting to be showcased!  I have been on a bit of a middle-school fiction kick lately, and I decided to tap into my built-in “focus group” to help me decide which title to feature here.  My “focus group” is comprised of my two grade-school sons, and it is always fun to see what they are picking up off the shelves and listening to their reviews of books.

I remembered a few months back that my younger son, Lucas, was really into the book Floors by Patrick Carman.  I remember watching him sitting and reading on the couch, smiling and laughing out loud, totally engrossed.  Afterward, he gave it an enthusiastic five-star rating and periodically reminded me, “Dad, you should read that book!”

So, when I saw that the second book in the series was released recently, I figured I should see if the series lived up to the hype.

The protagonist of Floors is Leo Fillmore, son of the Whippet Hotel’s maintenance man.  As part of their employment, they live in the basement of the hotel, which may sound dull, but in reality it is a child’s dream.  The Whippet Hotel is no ordinary hotel.  Built by the eccentric Merganzer D. Whippet, it features rollercoasters, a life-sized pinball machine room, hidden passageways, robots, holograms, and so much more.  It is truly imaginative, inventive, and unique.  The problem is that it appears that greedy real estate developers want to acquire the property it is built on, and they are sabotaging the workings of the hotel in an effort to drive down the price and buy it.  Things are mysteriously breaking down, chaos reigns, and many of the guests of the hotel are getting upset.  On top of all of this, Mr. Whippet has mysteriously disappeared, leaving much of the responsibility of fixing things to Leo and his dad.  Leo finds a mysterious box left to him by Mr. Whippet that sends him and his bellboy friend, Remi, on a quest that leads them throughout the marvelous hotel.

There is a lot going on here: mystery and intrigue, villains and good guys, Willy Wonka-style contraptions and inventions, and loads of adventure.  While Leo is the main character, the Whippet Hotel is the star of the book.  Carman has succeeded in creating a world within the hotel that really stimulates the imagination.

3 Below by Patrick Carman. September 2012. 9780545255202. Gr. 4-7.

In the follow up to Floors, titled 3 Below, we find that there is even more to the Whippet Hotel than was revealed in the first book.  The bossy former manager, Mrs. Sparks, is back with revenge on her mind, and she knows that the preoccupied Mr. Whippet has not paid his taxes, and now owes $700,000.  She enlists the help of the detestable Mr. Carp and a hotel guest to again try and wrest the hotel away from Leo and Mr. Whippet.   Leo and Remi are sent on another quest to save the hotel, where they encounter a new cast of characters and plenty of surprises.

This series features a lot of pure, innocent fun.  I think they are great books to get in the hands of boys, as the robots, contraptions, and adventure should prove irresistible to them.  But I also think this is a fun read for anyone…who doesn’t like magical, mysterious, funny stories?  This book would be a great read-aloud book for a classroom or reading group as well.

It appears that my “focus group” was correct on this one!  I am sure you all take note of what the children in your lives are reading…I encourage you to leave a comment after this post with any books your own personal “focus groups” have been telling YOU to read!

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