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The Hotel Under the Sand Paperback – July 1, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Baker's (the Company series) first book for children introduces a young heroine named Emma, who finds herself on the Dunes after an unspecified disaster. Her apparent solitude is an illusion: the Dunes are home to the lost Grand Wenlocke, the most luxurious hotel in the world, as well as the ghost of dutiful Bell Captain Winston Oliver Courtland. The hotel is uncovered by conveniently timed winds and in short order the orphan and ghost are joined by cook Mrs. Beet, tugboat pirate Captain Doubloon and fellow orphan Masterman Wenlocke. The five form an ad-hoc family and begin operating the hotel once more. At the outset, the omniscient narrator assures readers that Emma has the required "cleverness and bravery" to tackle an adventure, but the book offers scant opportunities for Emma to demonstrate this. The tragedy that maroons Emma is deliberately vague, Doubloon is amiable, Masterman proves reasonable and the servants are properly submissive. The element of danger introduced by the arrival of Masterman's conniving guardian seems perfunctory. Although skillfully written, the book is undermined by a lack of tension. Ages 9-12.
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Review

“Wow! I read The Hotel Under the Sand with delight and joy. It’s wonderful, wacky and spooky, and serious and FUN. It also strikes me as utterly original (which is quite rare…”
—Diana Wynne Jones, author of Howl’s Moving Castle

“Kage Baker’s The Hotel Under the Sand will grab you on page one and never let you go until you finish reading and beg for more.”
—Richard A. Lupoff, author of Marblehead

“I read it all in one sitting, enjoying the characters and the well-crafted plot very much, and want to read it soon to my granddaughters. Kage Baker used the fantasy structure with a light touch, reassuring but exciting...”
—Cecilia Holland, author of Until the Sun Falls

“...charming...Baker’s first book for younger readers is a delight.”
Denver Post

“...skillfully written....”
Publishers Weekly

“Kage Baker is already well-known among adult readers for her science-fiction series The Company, but her new children’s book The Hotel Under the Sand is bound to win her plenty of new readers among the younger set.”
Omivoracious.com

“Refreshingly original.... Although Baker is an established author of science fiction and fantasy for adults, this novel is written so naturally that it is difficult to believe
it is her debut for younger readers.”
VOYA Library Journal

“There are few books that I immediately want to press into the hands of other readers the instant I turn the last page. My copy of Hotel will be one that I hand to my daughter in a few years. First, however, I’m going to force it on everybody I know.”
Locus

“It’s exciting to come upon a book that serves not only as a great story to share with your kids, but one that has some undeniably unusual—and geeky—features.”
Wired.com

“...a strangely delightful story.”
Charlotte’s Library

The Hotel Under the Sand is the kind of book that you resolve to send to your nieces and nephews even before you have finished the first page.”
Reading the Leaves

“I just wanted more!”
Fantasy Book Critic

“I would strongly recommend it for fans of Roald Dahl and readers who are still young at heart.”
SF Crowsnest

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 7
  • Paperback: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications; 1st edition (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1892391899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892391896
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,743,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Hotel Under the Sand is simply the most charming children's book (ages 8-11) that I have read in recent memory. Emma, a brave little girl, is lost at sea and washes up on a desert island. There she discovers a magical hotel where time is stretched out so that you can vacation as long as you wish (I seriously need that). She also discovers some stalwart friends (like a ghost, a chef, and a pirate) and uncovers the mysteries of the hotel in a wonderfully creative treasure hunt. There are also excellent illustrations that skillfully capture the flavor of the story.

I could say more, but I wouldn't want to spoil the book for you. The Hotel Under the Sand is suitable for children, but also for older readers who just want an old-fashioned adventure (not like, say, Twilight) told from the perspective of a spunky little heroine who is based on a real little girl named Emma. It's truly a breath of fresh air.
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It seems to me that sometimes books are ill-served by the blurbers who help promote them. The blurbs and reviews on this site are a good example of this. The impression you get is that this is a brilliant fantasy piece, or a deep and complex alternate world piece. That seems to overstate things a bit, which could lead you to be disappointed by a book that has certain but mild and restrained charms.

This is a very well-written, very subtle, very calm, (almost "dreamy"), reflection on youth, self-reliance and friendship. Set in an off-kilter imagined world, it touches more on matters of family and wonder than on adventure or conflict. It is a mellow and thoughtful sort of book; brief and touching.

So, not a slam-bang adventure, but calm and well-written, you might want to consider it as a very good introduction, for a young reader, to, for want of a better word, "literary" fiction.
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Format: Paperback
I have read most of the stories Kage Baker has published and I found "The Hotel Under the Sand" to be a delightful blend of fantasy and science fiction for the younger reader. I too recognize certain "stock" characters from Ms. Baker's stories. I find the characters charming in this context, Ms. Baker has her own mythological archetypes to draw from and we see different renditions of them in her shorter stories.

I call this a Steam Punk Fairy Tale, for that is exactly what it is. A delightful story to read to my daughter, or have her read to me, at bedtime. Adventures abound, magic happens, a strong and intelligent young lady overcomes all obstacles with the help of friends.

Excellent seed for fertile minds to dream over!
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Format: Paperback
"The Hotel Under the Sand" opens in a very scary and sad manner, when its young heroine, Emma, encounters a terrible storm and is swept away at sea, far away from everyone and everything she knows and loves. Being the plucky and resourceful young lady she is, Emma weathers the storm and goes in search of food and water. While walking along the seashore, she meets the ghost....

This is a wonderful, rollicking wish-fulfillment adventure story. It has everything - magic, ghosts, pirates, delicious food, sumptuous hotels, evil guardians, strange, unusual side characters, horrible boarding schools and bratty (if brave) little boys. Baker sneaks some of her typical classical and literary tropes into the story, and also manages to discuss huge topics, such as friendship, grief and loss, without being prosy and moralistic. About the only thing that might be difficult for young children is the beginning, but it is dealt with in a sensitive way and is totally not gratuitous.

I've already purchased a copy for my small niece, just in case it goes out of print. I'm just sad that the untimely loss of the wonderful Ms. Baker means she will not be creating any more of these small masterpieces. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
We ordered this book before we went on vacation, so I would have something to read on the plane. My kids got their hands on the book first, and loved it! It was a quick read for them, kept them entertained with the fast paced action and adventure of Emma and her friends. I was finally able to read it over the past 2 days, and did not want to have to put it down. While I would have liked to see more, I realize this book was geared toward younger readers, and allows them to start getting hooked on Kage Baker's books, like a lot of adults have. I can't wait to see what else she has rolling around her fantastic brain.
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Dare I say this? This is my favorite Kage Baker story. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE her Company Series and all the other various and sundry pieces. Ms. Baker was an amazing author. Maybe I read this at a particular point in my life that made it have such an impact, I'm not sure. I loved Monkey Days, too. Maybe I'm just a sucker for growing up themes.

All the other reviewers have hit the nail on the head, so I can't add much more. It's a wonderfully written, easy read. And it has Ms. Baker's "voice"! Some kids' books need illustrations to help the reader see the events. Not this one. Ms. Baker painted pictures with her words.

My nine year old loved it. I loved it. It had outrageously fun characters, a dog, a parrot, a canon, witty conversations, and a worthy ending.
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