Alexander, your thank you is better than any other thank you! Just finished 5 weeks of writer’s residencies at Blackett & Braddock Public Schools. Their imaginations were rocket-fuelled and it is always a privilege to ride with them for a while “beyond the point of space”. Thanks again Westwords for the opportunity to let our minds collide. It was genuinely thrilling. p.s Lauren your pickle panda – a panda who lives in a pickle jar – was genius!
A lovely German review by Catherine Mahrenholtz about Vincent! Apologies for the dodgy google translation…..
“This novel is often reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s children’s books in its whimsical nature, but Lisa Nicol treats her characters in a much more warm-hearted way – everyone wants to book a short break at “The Grand” immediately. “Vincent and the Greatest Hotel in the World” is a philosophical-poetic fairy tale about family and friendship for children aged 10 and over.”
How exciting to stumble across such news. Apparently in November last year, Dr Boogaloo and The Girl Who Lost Her Laughter was a winner in the 2021 Shenzhen Reading Month ‘Top Ten Children’s Books of the Year’. Shenzhen Reading month is a large literary festival. Shenzhen is also home to the largest bookshop in the world. I am SO thrilled Dr Boogaloo has been awarded such an honour. It’s lovely to imagine kids in China enjoying a bit of Boogaloo. There’s also more exciting news to come about Dr Boogaloo but I’m not allowed to tell yet, so stay tuned…..
I could not love this book any more! @lisanicolauthor has once again blown our minds with a story so fabulously bonkers and so beautifully written that I had to just lie in a dark room for a good while and appreciate what I had just read….. definitely in the running for one of my favourite books of the year!
Rachel Robson, Children’s literacy specialist, Gleebooks, 31 August 2021
…a superbly crafted blend of wonder, action and remarkable characters.
Joy Lawn, Magpie Magazine, May 2022
What a beautiful story Lisa Nicol has written for us to enjoy. It is heart-warming and so full of love, but also loss. By the time you finish The What on Earth Institute of Wonder, you may just want to go out and save the world single-handedly….This is definitely a book you will want to read more than once.
The What on Earth Institute of Wonder is indeed itself wonderful, a finely honed, multi-faceted little gem…
Kevin Steinberger, Magpie Magazine, Nov 21
From the moment I began to read this middle grade, speculative fiction novel, I knew it was a goodie…. It will make readers smile, yearn, feel sad and most of all wonder ….. A quirky, heartfelt, unique story of friendship, family and conviction that is sure to be eaten up by kids aged 9-13.
…her writing wraps around me like a warm doona and I slip immediately back into my childhood. …I have to say, Lisa Nicol does not get nearly as many song dedications and street parades as she deserves.
This is a delightful story with elements of fantasy, environmental activism, family dilemmas and friendship all woven together with whimsy to create a charming story for young readers. … uplifting and warm, and quirkily appealing with a touch of the impossible.
Lisa Nicol’s whimsical way with words is becoming the stuff of legend. Her narratives are an intoxicating mix of wonderment, cheek and incredible heart; a strange combination but one that makes her middle grade novels fulfilling and memorable. The What on Earth Institute of Wonder perpetuates this premise while managing to incorporate an African forest elephant and a New Zealand Kakapo into the same sentence, never mind the same Kombi van!
It’s an actual book. And it’s actually out. Just like the jasmine.
From today THE WHAT ON EARTH INSTITUTE OF WONDER is available in all good bookstores. It’s about a gang of friends who kidnap a rare African forest elephant. If I tell you any more than that, I might ruin the story but let’s just say kidnapping an elephant is not an easy thing to do even when it is the right thing to do. Which I’m not saying it is. There’s also a talking kakapo, an eight-and-a-half-year-old doomsday prepper, a villain with a fondness for wearing Peter Rabbit pyjamas and a lot of underage driving.
It’s a strange environment to be releasing a book but an even stranger time to live. As my mother always says ‘Just keep going!’
One elephant, one kakapo, one unlicensed teenage driver, one boy waiting for the world to end and a twelve-year-old girl with a very special gift.
Sal has always had an affinity with animals – especially the lost kind. But when two rare and endangered creatures appear out of nowhere, life takes a detour into strange and uncharted territory.
Join Sal, Bartholomew and Roy on a mind-boggling expedition into the secrets of the Animal Kingdom with only an invisible map of the human heart to guide them. (Unless, of course, you count the talking parrot.) What on Earth could possibly go wrong…?
Ah….I’ll let you in on a secret. A lot!
I’m so excited and nervous that The What on Earth Institute of Wonder is coming out on the 31st of August. If you adore animals and don’t mind a laugh, I reckon you’re going to love it. Well I hope you are. And there’s plenty of that in there too. Hope.
Stay tuned over the coming months for some sneak peaks and stories behind the story…
Congratulations to everyone who entered The Grandest Competition to design a new room for The Grandest Hotel on Earth. I was overwhelmed by the brilliant ideas for rooms and judging was very nearly impossible! Rooms where you get your own loyal tiger, rooms that are bright stars, rooms where you write and enter your own story, an ‘almost endless room’. All entries will be exhibited on the website as soon as I can get them up! But for now, here are the winners!
WINNER AGE 10+
Ester’s Fruit Room – WINNER
Everything in the “Fruit Room” is actual edible fruit. The walls are watermelon and the floor is strawberry. There is a strawberry bed with pears holding it up. Next to the bed is a beside table which is a pineapple with an actual orange lamp (although it doesn’t work that well and is completely broken when the guest takes a bite out of it). There is an apple rug with a big bite in it from the previous guest. There is a comfortable big banana chair with a strawberry table next to it with an apple, orange, grapes, pineapple and a pear on it ready to be eaten. In the room is Vincent and his pocket dog Min.
WINNERS AGE 8+
Hayley’s Sleeping Panda Room – WINNER
This room has a sleeping panda to comfort you, panda giving you a dance party when you walk in, bamboo for your pandas. A deluxe TV to watch. Last but not least a bathroom with a bamboo towel to save the environment.
Rosie’s Mythical Creatures Room – WINNER
You share a room with amazing ,cute, friendly mythical creatures. There is a hammock to sleep on and before you go to bed you can play with them. Also you can play with them in the morning!
Aiden’s Gravity Arcade Room – WINNER
A flying arcade
Harper’s Jinx Yourself Lucky Room – WINNER
In the Jinx Yourself Lucky Room it looks like a normal room but when you think negative the exact opposite happens.
Isla’s Underwater Room – RUNNER UP
This is the underwater room. The beds are seashells and Vincent is the one with the V on his blue shirt. There is also a Mermaid in the tank. A school of fish that are grey. One shark and dolphin staring at each other. A wrinkly blob fish which is floating in the water unhappily and 2 puffer fish. Finally, if you look closely you can see Vincent’s pocket dog Min!!!
Lisa’s The Infinity Cartoon Room
How this room works is that when you walk into the room there will be a robot with a big screen where you search a film or draw your own world then when you press the button on the robot then your world will be a reality.
Elliot’s Animalia Room
This room has different biomes. The biomes are rainforest, desert, mountains, snowy, ocean and they all lead to the castle of Animalia. When you walk inside the room you will be in the first biome, the rainforest. There is a hut in each biome. You have to find this hut, in this hut there is a bed and a back door. You go through the hut’s backdoor and you will appear in the next biome. You have to go through all the biomes to get to the castle. Once you reach the castle of Animalia this is the last place you need to be. You get your own huge room with gold all over the place, you can’t remove any of the gold or you get teleported back to the beginning and have to start again. The castle of Animalia guards the kingdom. The king is an animal, he has the ability to turn into other animals and can control any other animals. He has a special crown with a magical gem stone and if you get this crown you rule Animalia for the time you are living in this room. The crown only works in the kingdom of Animalia.
Christian’s Gaming Room
Like Gaming? Yes? Then it’s the PERFECT room for you! Sit in the nicest couch ever & play on the TV.
As soon as you walk into this amazing animal paradise you will also notice that there is a wonderful leopard print bed cover with a beautiful soft pig rug under your feet then you will see a stunning wallpaper full of palm trees and so much more!
Joshua’s Season’s Room
A room where you can choose the season and weather in the room
Brooke’s The Come to Life Room
In this room you can pick a book and the characters come to life in your room like the 3 bears come in your room and goldilocks.
Arjun’s The Book Room
Once you enter this room you type a book on the type pad and the part of the story you would like to stay in. You can change the part of the story you want to stay in by going to the type pad and changing it. Also known as the “almost endless room”
Tom’s Skate Ramp Room
In the Skate Ramp Room you can skate the ramp whenever you want. It is not too steep but it is good and it still has a bed, a closet and a door.
Sean K’s Read Your Mind Room
In this room you’ll walk in and hear what the person that walks in with you is thinking. You can set it to read your mind or someone else’s.
Eadie’s Sleep Over Room
This is the sleepover room. It’s great for boys and girls included there is lollies and paper and pen. Also toilet and shower. Of course sleeping bags.
That’s it! Entries are now closed for the Grand Drawing Competition. Thank you to everyone who entered! The winner will be announced very shortly (Monday 27th July) and pocket dog despatched as soon as possible. All entries will also be displayed on the website. I can’t wait to show you the spectacular imaginations and talents of everyone who entered. Stay tuned!
A competition to design some new rooms for The Grandest Hotel on Earth!
Here’s what you need to do. Think up an idea for a new room. Draw it. Write a few lines telling me all about the room. And then email it to me: email@example.com
Entries close 15 July 2020. Due to that old corona virus, the deadline for entries is being extended until 22 JULY. (There’s a lot of uncertainty when schools will be back and some teachers have requested a little more time)
All drawings will be displayed in a gallery on the website. And the winner of the BEST NEW ROOM drawing will receive their VERY OWN POCKET DOG!! ( It will not be living I’m afraid. It will be stuffed. But it WILL fit in your pocket!!). The winner will be announced on Friday the 17th of July.
If you need a refresher of what rooms already exist at The Grand, you’ll need to reread Chapter 6!
Can’t WAIT to see all your drawings and ideas for rooms! Happy imagining everyone!
I got a lovely surprise in the mail the other day. A beautiful letter and a magnificent drawing from a girl called Rosie. Rosie said it was OK for me to share her picture. It’s a family portrait of everyone at The Grand. I think her likenesses of Rupert and Zelda are particularly wonderful. And how cute is Min!
Rosie suggested I write a sequel to Vincent. I often think about it. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Rosie is a writer too. I’m looking forward to reading Rosie’s work one day.
Recently, I was sitting at my desk in a bit of a funk. I was having problems with a story.
I couldn’t seem to get it to work no matter what I tried. I hated everything I was writing. Maybe I don’t have any more stories, I worried. Fear curled up in the pit of my stomach like a sleeping snake. So I just kept on writing – anything! – trying not to disturb it.
Then one morning, early, while I was writing, writing, there was a scratchy kind of tapping noise at my office door.
I got up and opened it. And watched in disbelief as a strange bird walked in, climbed up onto my desk and plonked itself next to my keyboard.
I had never seen a bird like it.
It was as big as a duck with owlish eyes and mossy green feathers. And I don’t mean to be rude, but it was quite fat.
‘Well, since you seem to be all out of stories,’ said the strange bird, ‘how about you write one of mine?’
It can talk?
‘You better believe it,’ replied the bird. ‘And have I got a story for you.’
Well, I had to admit, I was intrigued. For a writer, that’s a good sign. So I inched towards my chair, trying not to go too close to the fat feathered creature, and sat down.
‘Ahem,’ I sorted of coughed, my hands hovering over the keyboard. ‘So..um.. what’s your name?’
‘Hector,’ said the bird, ‘And I am a kakapo. That’s K – A – K – A – P – O.’
I got a lovely email the other day. It was from a girl called Lila. I asked Lila if I could put it on my website because it’s like the best review ever. And she replied ‘That’s fine. I would love that. (smiley face)’
So here’s Lila’s lovely letter.
As soon as Ipickedupyourbook (the grandest hotel on earth)I could not put it down. Your writingis amazingly emotional, if you would have seen me reading you would have seen tears running down my cheeksor me laughing hysterically. A real joy to read. I could read it every second of the day.
This week I received the grandest drawing. It’s by a nine-year-old girl called Taleea. After reading Vincentand The Grandest Hotel on Earth with her mum, she drew this magnificent picture of Florence and Vincent having breakfast (with a giraffe of course!). Florence looks SO incredibly grand and Taleea’s attention to detail is astounding. Note the musical emerald footwear, Vincent’s name above the top pocket of his uniform. And the gorgeous painting on the wall of the hotel itself, the snowcapped Mabombo Ranges soaring into the night sky behind it. Just breathtaking. Thank you so much Taleea for letting me exhibit your beautiful drawing on my website. Perhaps one day you might like to be a children’s book illustrator and you can officially illustrate my books! Wouldn’t that be grand!
There are pianos and elephants at The Grandest Hotel on Earth. And the new book I’m writing has them too!
Elephants are the most majestic creatures. They fill me with awe and wonder. When I came across Paul Barton and his piano playing for elephants, I was captivated. I have watched his clips on YouTube many times over.
I particularly love this one.
Peter the elephant’s love of music is undeniable. The music delights him. He has to move his body and he has to woop and holler. (His mate seems to be having a pretty good time too!) I think Peter feels exactly the same things I feel when I listen to music that I like.
Vincent has finally hit the shelves! It’s been great criss-crossing the city visiting bookstores and hearing what people think of the book! We also had a launch party with smoking sodas and whatever-flavour-you-think-of-balls….Weirdly most people thought they tasted like cheese and bacon. It’s funny how our imaginations desert us at the most inopportune times. Anyway, here’s a few reviews and photos….I’ll be signing books this Saturday 20 July, 10am at Lindfield Learning Hub. Come along if you’re in that neck of the woods…
“This is absolutely GRAND! I adored it. What a wonderful read!”
“… so alive with magic and wonder … simply impossible to resist. This is a charming and surprisingly moving delight for readers aged eight and older seeking more of Nevermoor’s capriciousness, with all the sensitivity of Kate DiCamillo’s best. Four stars.”
“..an epic and addictive adventure for junior readers. This is a book-world to fall into headfirst, dream about when you aren’t reading and fantasise about long after you’ve come to the end… This is a book that is destined to become a treasured favourite in so many homes and I predict lots of people are going to be talking about it.”
“This is a delightful read for 8 plus readers that has heart and is smart. Quirky. Full of great imagery. Echoes of Dahl and the work of filmmaker Wes Anderson. Lisa Nicol is an Aussie writer to watch!”
The Grandest Hotel on Earth has a new sign! Unfortunately it was erected after the book was written so it doesn’t feature on the cover. But it’s up now. Imagine at night when there’s nothing but the stars and the moon and the hotel sign floating in the night sky. Must look incredibly Grand!
Even without the sign I think the cover of Vincent looks beautiful. The hotel was drawn by the wonderfully talented Nancy Liang and the cover was designed by Rachel Lawston. Nancy also animates her illustrations. Here’s an animated version of The Grandest Hotel on Earth.
I was so excited after I read the first review of Vincent I started swearing like his potty-mouthed sister Rose.
I wanted to share it with the world!
But my Dad always told me there’s nothing worse than people who blow their own trumpet. Blowing your own trumpet means boasting about yourself. So I feel a bit conflicted sharing this review. Like I’m showing off (which clearly I am). But I’m just so thrilled that somebody liked the book!
So sorry Dad. Cover your ears and pass me that horn!