When a tumbledown old hotel…tumbles down, what’s to become of the residents?
In this French import, young Gabriel enjoys helping his parents work to keep the hotel (once known as the “Sherrington” until some letters fell off the sign) a going concern for its long-term guests, who range from Mr. Folds, a serial origamist, to genteel Mrs. Kettle, who dispenses chocolate “medals” for good deeds and insists that she is “Tina the 23rd, exiled Queen of Kettlippia.” Unfortunately, coping with roof leaks are one thing, but when entire walls start falling down—well, it’s time to pack up. Bloch mixes spiky, outlined figures, mostly white as the paper beneath except in one late crowd scene, with superimposed cutouts and patterns to give the seedy guests and setting a look of faded elegance—sometimes with a satiric edge, as two of the tanks supposedly invading from “the big country next door” in Mrs. Kettle’s account of her supposed exile bear red stars and one, a familiar stars and stripes flag. Just as the tearful guests are gathering to say goodbye, a long cavalcade of limos drives up. More guests? No, it turns out that the hotel really was housing a royal, whose long wait has at last come to an end. All of the guests come along by invitation, and the hotel itself too…rebuilt right next to the palace.
Sketchy—less a story than a treatment—but lit clear through with the warmth of found family. (Picture book. 6-8)