“Dyer makes a sparkling debut with this droll tale...this winsome caper is just right for newly independent readers.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Captivating” – Booklist
There’s definitely something fishy going on at the Grand Hotel, in Room 11: Something that has to do with the family living in that room; something that has to do with secrets that have been kept for much too long.
Toby had always lived by the sea, at the Grand Hotel. Not that it was really all that grand any more. The carpets were worn, the china chipped and cracked, the paint peeling, and dust was everywhere. Toby had been found on the bed in one of the rooms when he was a baby. The staff took care of him and waited for someone to claim him, but no one ever did. And Mr. Harris, the hotel manager, put him to work just as soon as he was old enough to use a spray can of furniture polish. He worked hard and hardly played at all, going everywhere in his pajamas and bare feet, because no one thought to buy him clothes and shoes, and Mr. Harris certainly didn’t pay him. Toby worked only for his room and board. And things would have continued that way, except that one night Cook’s laundry blew away because Toby forgot to bring it in, and while he was looking for it, he met Eliza.
Eliza and her parents were mermaids, and lived in a cave near the beach. Eliza invited Toby home for tea, and when he was ready to leave afterwards, her mother, Gertrude, gave Toby a gold signet ring that had belonged to a duke. She said they’d been waiting for the right person to give it to, and Toby was that very person. And she shoved it onto Toby’s finger, even though it was a rather tight fit.
Naturally, just as soon as Toby got back to the hotel, Mr. Harris saw it, realized it was part of the treasure people had been searching for, ever since the Duke of Dudley’s ship went down ten years before. The Duke, his wife, and his baby son had all died in the shipwreck, and the chests of family jewels had been lost. But Toby didn’t want to tell anyone about the mermaids, so when Mr. Harris asked, Toby just said he’d found the ring on the beach near the pier. Soon treasure hunters swarmed all over the beach, and Toby realized that the mermaids were no longer safe. Their cave would surely be found by the greedy hunters. But what could he do? Where could they go? How could he help them and still keep them a secret?
Sometimes the best place to hide something is in plain sight – so Toby decided to move them right into the hotel! How do you smuggle three mermaids into a hotel without anyone guessing that they aren’t real people? How about wheelchairs? Sometimes life takes us on strange and unexpected adventures. Check into the Grand Hotel, get to know the family in Room 11, and see what kind of adventures you’ll discover!
This Booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart