The Fish in Room 11 by Heather Dyer
A short but sweet and thoroughly English story of the seaside!
Toby lives a lonely life, working in his pyjamas for mean Mr Harris’s seafront hotel. One Summer though his life is changed when he meets a pale, thin girl on the beach whose waist ends in a tail! Soon he, Eliza and her parents the Flots are all embroiled in a treasure hunt and a mystery, all whilst trying to avoid the sharp gaze of the miserly Mr Harris.
Bags of charm to this little story. It reminds me a little of Fawlty Towers and a more old fashioned kids book, the kind that were a bit old school when my parents had them. I love that it’s set by the seaside in a slightly-past-it’s-best grand hotel because that more than anything says English seaside to me. You know; those big old Victorian buildings that were just meant to be strolled by, parasol in hand, with beautiful views overlooking the beach, all slightly gone to seed with the passing of time and the forgotten health benefits of ‘taking the air’. Sweetly nostalgic with a quiet charm, and reminds me a great deal of trips to Margate or Hasting when I was little.
The Flots are great fun and I love how topsy turvy they turn the whole hotel, despite Mr Harris ‘s determination to be a wet blanket. They’re such lively characters that it’s almost a shame when the story ends and you have to say goodbye.
The story’s strength is indeed in it’s characters – Mr Harris makes a fabulous baddy, reminding me rather strongly of Basil Fawlty towards the end. Watching him get more and more confused by the Flots’ antics and in more and more of a huff as everyone enjoys themselves despite him is the sort of thing you can only read with glee.
A charming little read ideal for slightly older developing readers, about the 5-6 mark.
Find The Fish in Room 11 here.