FLOORS. By Patrick Carman. Scholastic Press. $16.99. 272 pages. For ages 9-14.

Eccentricities, mystery and zaniness abound in this creative adventure that longs to be placed on the shelf next to 'James and the Giant Peach,' 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' or just about any other book by Roald Dahl.

Leo is a 10-year-old boy who works with his father as the maintenance crew of the Whippet Hotel in New York City. The Whippet is no ordinary hotel. Owned by the highly eccentric Merganzer D. Whippet, it is filled with strange rooms, creatures, flaky staff, odd guests and ducks, of course. According to Merganzer, they are very useful creatures. Unfortunately, Merganzer is gone and nothing is as it should be.

When a mysterious box and message show up, Leo learns that he has four days to discover four hidden boxes and save the hotel. That's when the really strange stuff begins. Leo's adventures take him to hidden floors, hidden rooms, hidden elevators and much more.

Ghosts, fire-breathing dragons and flying goats all make appearances. There is a sense of danger but no real threat. There is a disgustingly mean hotel manager, a very bratty hotel guest and a true friendship.

This book has everything, including depth to the characters. Any shortcomings are more than covered by the extreme imagination and pure fun of the tale. My kids had me read it with them twice during the first week we had it, and we enjoyed it both times.

McGeath Freeman reviews children's books for Lowcountry Parent magazine. To see previous reviews, visit www.lowcountryparent.com.