Sunny and the Hotel Splendid, by Alison Moore (illustrated by Ross Collins), is the second book in the author’s series of fiction for children. As in the first book, Sunny and the Ghosts, a key character is a young boy named Sunny who lives with his mum and dad in the flat above their antique shop in Devon. In this latest book the family go on holiday where they meet Ana who is at the seaside for a week with her mother. They are all staying in the titular hotel where two of Sunny’s friends now live. Sunny’s friends are somewhat unusual as they are ghosts who arrive in his parent’s shop with furniture. The ghosts can only be seen by children so the adults will not believe that they exist.
“‘It’s funny’, she said, ‘how something can be right in front of you and you just don’t see it.'”
Despite its prime location, the Hotel Splendid is not doing well. Guests are disturbed by strange noises and bumps in the night which interrupt their sleep, leading to negative reviews on TripAdvisor. The proprietor is concerned that she may have to close if she cannot find a way to make the business pay.
Ana has always wanted to see a ghost so is delighted when Sunny introduces her to his friends. She suggests that others may choose to stay in a hotel with such residents and suggests they put on a play to highlight their existence. The adults agree to indulge what they regard as a childish fantasy. When word spreads about strange goings on, the ghosts’ settled existence is threatened.
The writing is pitched perfectly at children but the quick witted humour makes this tale enjoyable for every reader. The detailed illustrations scattered throughout the text add to the pleasure.
I particularly enjoyed the ghosts’ reaction when it appeared the hotel really was haunted. Sunny and Ana are fabulous with their calm reactions, particularly to adult disbelief.
A warm and witty story of friendship and acceptance. A plot and protagonists that will fire the imagination of readers whatever their age.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Salt.