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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Didier Levy
Age Range: 6-8
This delightfully quirky tale is narrated by Gabriel, who lives with his parents in a rundown hotel by the sea. It used to be called the Sherrington but some of the letters fell off the sign so now it’s known as the Herring Hotel. The building is old and rather dilapidated, in fact it is falling apart. Despite this, Gabriel and his parents look after the eccentric residents, most of whom have been living there for years. There’s Mr Folds, who spends his time making paper animals and birds; Mr Kipps, who walks in his sleep; the elegant Madam Lafleur; the grumpy Molotov twins, who love to play chess and Mr Babacan, a chef who works at the best kebab house in town. Finally there is Mrs Kettle in her blue housecoat, shiny gold slippers, a lot of red lipstick and a big crown on her head. She always refers to herself as Tina the 23rd, exiled Queen of Kettlippia. As the hotel crumbles all around them, the family and residents realise it’s time to say goodbye, however, just in time they receive the surprise of their life.
Full of humour and eccentricity The Herring Hotel by French author Didier Lévy, who has written over 40 books for children, provides a chatty narrative peppered with some droll observations. Renowned French cartoonist and illustrator, Serge Bloch's mixed media illustrations of free style pen-and-ink drawings on bold backgrounds of colour wash superimposed with cut-outs and patterns enhances and accentuates the comedy.
Bloch’s The Big Adventure of a Little Line is also reviewed on the OIW website.