Vincent lives in the very ordinary town of Barry and life is anything but grand. His grandfather has just died, his Mother and Father are weary with working at the local factory and looking after his little brother Thom – who spends most of his time screaming. There’s also a sister, 7-year-old Rose, but she’s only interested in becoming an actress and vying for the attention of anyone who can help her achieve this dream.
Vincent’s grandfather left him a shoe-shine kit and he immediately sees the potential to make some money and hopefully improve his situation. He hopes that after a day of shoe shining he’ll have enough money to buy himself a treat.
Little does he know this is the start of the biggest adventure of his life. When he sets up shop in a busy station he is almost immediately spotted by Florence and Rupert the manager and concierge of the biggest and best hotel Vincent has ever known – The Grandest Hotel on Earth.
As it happens, they are after a shoe-shiner for the hotel and so after just one morning cleaning shoes Vincent finds himself in the luxurious and over the top surrounds of the hotel.
Imagine chandeliers made from a thousand moose antlers and coloured glass lanterns that shimmer and dazzle, tiny ponies with spectacular turquoise feathered headdresses and rainbow tails, inflatable rooms, edible rooms, rooms filled with butterflies… and that’s just the beginning!
However, all the luxury that’s on offer at the hotel is beside the point. The really grand thing about this hotel is the way it transforms people – they come in with the weight of the world on their shoulders and their priorities all out of whack and then the hotel works its magic.
Vincent immediately proves himself to be so much more than a shoe-shiner. He soothes souls and fixes problems with new shoe designs and ways to make people steady on their feet and in life. Most importantly he is a great support and friend to Florence who at only 11yrs old is running the hotel while her parents are off working on a special project.
Yet when Vincent breaks the hotel rules and discovers that there is an imminent tragedy that he can’t do anything to stop, the hotel starts to feel a little less grand. Yet maybe it’s exactly the reminder he needs about what is really important.
This heart-warming book is a lot of fun, filled with the most amazing creations that author Lisa Nicol had conjured up with the help of several little wild imaginations, including that of her co-author nine-year-old godson, Finley Wright Curnow. If your little reader enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they will love this book. A bonus is that a portion of the authors proceeds go to the Children’s Cancer Fund.
Lisa Nicol is a writer and documentary-maker. Her feature documentary Wide Open Sky, about a children’s choir in outback NSW, won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2015 Sydney Film Festival. Her first children’s book The Ballad of Dexi Lee was illustrated by artist Lucy Culliton. Her second children’s book Dr Boogaloo and the Girl Who Lost Her Laughter is currently being adapted as a musical for the stage. Lisa lives on the east coast of Australia with her three children and a dog who totally stinks.