Drop in on the lovable and eccentric Wilson family for an elevator ride filled with adventure and zany humor.
For the Wilson family, only the best will do! So when they arrive at the San Francisco Hotel and discover that there are no available rooms, they decide to stay in the place that suits them best of all: a room that has its ups . . . and its downs--a room called Otis. The Wilsons check in to the hotel elevator!
For three whole days, Mr. Walter Wilson, Mrs. Winona Wilson, 10-year-old Winslow Wilson, and his twin sister, Whitney Wilson, ride to all the floors, happily greeting startled guests who happen to drop in. There's a weary traveling salesman of kids' fads; a British rock group with a funny name; a lovesick bellhop; a society lady and her pampered poodle; and a slew of other surprising visitors. These "fantabulous" guests make the Wilsons' stay unforgettable, but it's the zany but compassionate Wilsons who'll be remembered long after they check out of Otis.
In his characteristically quirky style, Evans (The Classroom at the End of the Hall; Apple Island) here makes the most of perhaps the most constricted setting in modern memory. After the "kind woman at the front desk" of a San Francisco hotel informs the Wilson family that there are no vacancies, they step into the elevator and discover this "first-rate room. And it appears to be vacant." They are thrilled with its amenities: a full-length mirror, a phone, wall-to-wall carpeting, piped-in music and a panel of buttons to play with. Their vertically mobile home even has a nameAOtis. The author squeezes in some diverting action: the family of four host a catered dinner party for the hotel guests they have come to know (en route to their respective floors), and manage to foil a kidnapping attempt without leaving their quarters. Forgivably, Evans descends to some predictable puns (Wilson pater announces that his family has been in "many tight spots") and comes up with some over-the-top wordplay ("If I don't fit in time to keep fit at the hotel's fitness center, I have a fit") and alliteration ("On the twentieth floor, Tom and Tia Twiddle, two tourists from Texas, entered Otis toting trucks")Aall in good fun. Like the Wilsons' living space, readers' imaginations will expand to accommodate this blithe narrative. Fittingly sporting a vertical format, this clever tall tale will give kids' spirits a lift. Ages 8-12. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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July 08, 2001
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Excerpt from The Elevator Family by Douglas Evans
The doors slid open. The four Wilsons stepped into the little room. They dropped their suitcases and backpacks on the floor.
"Splendid! A gem of a place," said Walter Wilson. "The kind woman at the front desk said the hotel is full, but here's this first-rate room. And it appears to be vacant." He pulled out his suspenders with his thumbs and snapped them on his broad chest. "Only the best for this family. Nothing less will do."
Winona Wilson, Walter's wife, turned a complete circle. "A full-length mirror, a telephone, wall-to-wall carpeting. And listen." Soft marimba music floated down from the ceiling. "How lovely!"
"And look at all those buttons!" said Winslow Wilson, age ten. He pressed one button marked Close, and the doors slid shut. "Fantabulous!"
The little room vibrated slightly. A high-pitched hum came from overhead. "We're moving," said Winslow's twin sister, Whitney. "We're gliding upward. I wonder where we're going."
Walter crossed his fingers over his sizable belly. "A mobile room with all these extras," he said. "I say we take this fine room for our vacation. I say we move right in."
"Hear! Hear!" said the others.
The doors slid open. In the hallway stood an elderly couple holding suitcases. They remained still and mute while the four Wilsons waved to them.
"Greetings, fellow travelers," Walter called out.
"I'm so sorry," said Winona. "We just decided to take this room."
"But I think the room next door is vacant," said Winslow.
"It was on the first floor, but it might have moved by now," said Whitney.
The doors shut and the room started to drop. It opened again in the hotel's vast marble lobby. In the doorway stood a teenage boy wearing a wrinkled red jacket and a white shirt buttoned too tightly around his neck. Behind him stood two trunks.
"Splendid, young man," said Walter. "I wondered where you went. Wheel those trunks right in here. We'll take this room for three nights if it's available."
The teenager pushed the trunks forward. His black bow tie bobbed up and down on his Adam's apple as he spoke. "Sir? You want this room, sir? I don't understand, sir."
"The room needs a few items--bed linen and towels and whatnot," said Winona. "But it's small and cozy, just the way we like it. We're a close-knit family."
"This room's about the size of the van we drove to Alaska last summer," said Winslow. "Two thousand miles . . . one month together."
Whitney leaned against a trunk. "And last Christmas we stayed in a small fishing hut on the ice in Minnesota," she said. "I just hope Winslow keeps his socks clean this time."
The teenager raked his fingers through his hair. "Well, I'm only a bellhop. I don't make the rules around here."
"But tell us your name, young man," Walter said.
"Well, Gavin," said Walter, "you've given us excellent service. Stop in anytime. Guests are always welcome in our home."
Gavin shrugged. "Whatever," he said. "I've seen stranger things in this hotel, that's for sure."
"One more thing," Winona called as the bellhop started to leave. "Could you tell us the number of our mobile room?"
The teenager shrugged again. "I'm not sure, ma'am."
Winslow pointed to the button panel next to the doors. "Look at that tag," he said.
"Our room doesn't have a number," said Whitney "It has a name."
"'Otis!'" the four Wilsons read together.
The doors slid shut, and the little room started moving again.