The diminutive staff members of Hotel Strange find themselves dismayed when their guests all show up on opening day—March 21—and they are both completely unready and still swathed in snow.
And “strange” really is the order of the day. Many of the creatures in this graphic novel look as though they’re made of yarn, especially the Grouchies, tall, shaggy things who are shaped like bowling pins. That’s the joy of the book: none of the character designs makes any concession to reality. There’s a character who looks like a mushroom with antlers and a character whose face looks like an inkblot. Nothing in the book is more plausible than it needs to be. The Grouchies carry the wind around in a bag, and Winter is a large, bearded man who rides through the snow on a toboggan. The plot—what there is of it—has to do with the search for Mr. Spring, who’s gone missing. Readers after plot will find that the story has a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. But there’s almost more enjoyment in the small details, like Mr. Winter sitting in a room filled with cuckoo clocks, knitting a scarf. Some readers may just stare at the pictures, counting the dozens of tiny creatures in every scene, which is a satisfying experience all by itself.
This daffy adventure kicks off a series, and readers will be hoping for a speedy return to Hotel Strange. (recipe for sponge cake) (Graphic fantasy. 7-11)