The bed and breakfast star ISBN: 9780440863243
- Doubleday, 1994 (ISBN: 9780385404341)
- Yearling, 1995 (ISBN: 9780440863243)
Elsa is 10. She and her mum and stepfather, Mack ('Mack the smack) and half-sister Pippa and half-brother Hank have gone down in the world. They have moved around a lot. For awhile they had a nice new house, but Mack lost his job and everything was taken away. The catalogue of disasters is truly horrendous, but Elsa is a cheerful soul. She tells jokes - incessantly - to the point where one can understand Mack's tendency to smack, but she is a survivor. Even the utterly horrible Hotel royal doesn't completely get her down. The family is squashed into one room with wall to wall beds, the shared kitchen is filthy, and sewage comes up through the basin. From the children's point of view, coping is possible, though Pippa wets the bed and Elsa hates her new school. The adults find it much more difficult, and one suspects that Elsa's over-the-top humour means she is trying too hard. To an adult reader, there is desperation in her chirpiness. Elsa finally gets her chance to be a star when she discovers a fire and helps everyone to safety. The book ends on a happy note, with the family temporarily re-housed in a luxurious hotel, but that cannot be the end of the story.