The owner of the Solitude Hotel dreams of being the traveler in this Japanese import.
The squat, furry, animal standing behind the registration desk assisting a rabbit guest is hard to identify. When the protagonist also appears among an assortment of other characters—all are anthropomorphic creatures—it is also sometimes difficult to determine which one is the hotelier, although the first-person narration compels one to try. While the establishment is cozy and full of mutual storytelling, the innkeeper yearns for adventure too. The hotel scenes are in black and white, but as the narrator drifts off to sleep, the softly textured lithographs appear in color. In the dream, a bicycle, plane, and car transport the protagonist to a sunny beach, a picnic with former customers, and an encounter with a rainbow. The innkeeper awakens to the original palette only to study colorful postcards from guests in the evening. Close observers will recognize some of the images. Still awake, the protagonist imagines setting off on a journey, although this time it is rendered in black and white—optimists and pessimists will draw different conclusions from this decision. While some children may relate to these longings, this title feels more adult in perspective than Miyakoshi’s previous stories, which, while equally evocative and dreamlike, are grounded in matters more closely connected to childhood: parties, storms, bedtime.
Visually arresting but melancholy. (Picture book. 5-7)