Thursday, August 27, 2020

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel

Bradley, Fleur. Midnight at the Barclay Hotel
August 25th 2020 by Viking Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

The Barclay Hotel, a supposedly haunted site in Colorado usually closed to the public, opens by invitation to just five individuals. There's librarian Chelsea Griffin, actress and spiritualist Fiona Fleming, cowboy and rancher Buck, retired detective Frank Walker, who plans to attend with his bookworm granddaughter Penny, and CEO of restaurant chain PB&JJ whose son, JJ, uses his "you owe me" to get her to bring him to the hotel to practice his ghost hunting. Emma, who lives at the hotel, is pleased that there will be children in attendance whom she can befriend. When the group checks in and finally assembles, the butler, Mr. Clark, tells them that they were invited to the hotel because someone killed the owner, Mr. Barclay, and four of the guests had disagreements with him right before he died. Mr. Walker is there to help investigate, but all of the guests are asked to look into the identity of the murderer. Penny, JJ, and Emma also get involved, interviewing guests and trying to establish motives and opportunities. They also look a bit farther afield, checking on the chef, as well as Mr. Clark himself. They look into the board game that Mr. Barclay invented (which didn't sell well, so there are lots of copies around!), and uncover the secrets that each of the guests have. Using JJ's ghost hunting equipment, they also prove that the hotel is, in fact, haunted. Against the amusing setting of a hotel with a cupcake bar, an enormous library, a bowling alley, and a carousel, Penny and JJ sift through all of the clues to finally solve the crime.
Strengths: The Barclay Hotel was a fabulous setting; lots of cool features, ghosts, and a snowstorm that prevents everyone from leaving. The characters are all well defined and easy to keep straight. Penny loves books but JJ does not, so their different investigative styles complement each other. There are several twists and turns that I didn't see coming and don't want to ruin. There's just enough of an Agatha Christie vibe to the setting and characters that I found it amusing, but readers who aren't familiar with mysteries like hers will still be able to invest in the book. Another winner from Bradley.
Weaknesses: I loved this author's Double Vision series, which is really action-packed; this was more of a clue oriented mystery. That's great, just not what I was expecting. Also, the hot tub is not up to par and the cupcakes could be poison!
What I really think: This is a perfect volume to hand to readers who enjoyed Bertman's The Book Scavenger, Grabenstein's Mr. Lemoncello's Library or Guterson's Winterhouse.

Chapman, Dr. James. Sounds All Around: A Guide to Onomatopoeias Around the World
August 25th 2020 by Andrews McMeel Publishing  
Copy graciously provided by the publisher

This book discusses how different countries express onomatopoeias differently. Sounds are categorized (Farm animals, wild animals, loud noises, sounds of the human body, etc.), and the each two page spread will give lots of examples of the same sound in different languages (so a page for pigs, rain, driving, etc.) The illustrations are colorful and attractive, and the scholarship solid. Words in languages that have different alphabets are written in the Latin alphabet. My only concern is that when the words are labeled (in all caps, with punctuation), the language of origin underneath is in all lower case letters. 

I would have had so much fun with this with my children, and I can see this being used in classrooms for a variety of reasons. 

Ms. Yingling

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