"Wow! I read The Hotel Under the Sand with delight and joy. It's wonderful, wacky and spooky and serious and FUN. It also strikes me as utterly original (which is quite rare). In fact-- although this is something one should always say with some caution-- it wouldn't surprise me if it turned out to be a classic and went on down the ages along with Alice and Oz and the very few others that have become immortal."
--Diana Wynne Jones, author of Howl's Moving Castle

"Kage Baker's The Hotel Under the Sand will grab you on Page One and never let you go until you finish reading and beg for more. Young Emma is exactly the kind of little girl I wish I'd had for a sister, and would love to have for a daughter. She's smart, brave, and good. Her adventures are wonderful, her companions are amazing, and The Hotel Under the Sand will send you back to the bookshop to search for every Kage Baker book you can find."
--Richard A. Lupoff, author of Marblehead

"I read it all in one sitting, enjoying the characters and the well-crafted plot very much, and want to read it soon to my granddaughters. Kage Baker used the fantasy structure with a light touch, reassuring but exciting, and the Wenlocke itself is a wonderful creation. Baker writes well without writing down to her young audience, in fact, she invites them to stretch and reach."
--Cecilia Holland, author of Until the Sun Falls

This is Kage's first book for children. It's a tribute to the bravery of one extraordinary little girl named Emma. It was originally written over a period of several months and sent out to the actual Emma by mail, a chapter a week.

There are brave children everywhere, however, and it is to be hoped they'll enjoy The Hotel Under the Sand too. The book's lesson is that bad things happen in life, sometimes, and they happen to everybody, even good people. What matters is remaining a good person anyway, and learning to go on afterwards and make a good life.

When she was very little, the real Emma lived at the edge of the great Dunes. This is a vast forgotten corner of Central California just north of Point Conception. It looks a lot like the Sahara Desert, only not as dry. Long ago some real estate developers drew up a town blueprint and sold lots in the Dunes. They built a steamer pier and a great hotel, and hoped to get the railroad to build a spur out toward Oceano so that people on holiday could come visit the Dunes easily.

Unfortunately they forgot to build roads or provide for any water or power. People would try to drive out across the sand to get to their lots in their Model Ts, only to get stuck. Sometimes now a bad winter storm will blow away enough sand to uncover some ancient rusted automobile, still buried in the sand after a hundred years.

On one such stormy night long ago, the sand blew out from under the foundations of the big hotel and it became a derelict. Some people say it just fell apart and was scavenged over the years, and that you can still see some fallen stones from one of its chimneys. But some people say it sank under the sands and was never seen again...

Later on some artists and writers went to live in the Dunes, building little shacks out of salvaged wreckage. They called themselves the Dunites and they lived by digging clams and stealing vegetables from the edges of the farms on the other side of the Dunes. They called their community Moy Mell, and the Irish storyteller Ella Young lived there for many years. Several silent movies were filmed in the Dunes, including The Ten Commandments, and the same winter storms that uncover old cars will sometimes expose a plaster sphinx or the wall of a pharaoh's palace, left behind by Cecil B. DeMille.

For many years it was impossible to go into the Dunes without being run over by offroad vehicles, but conservation groups are working to preserve the wild sea-meadows and shell mounds, and you can visit the safe part of the Dunes by taking California Highway One to Guadalupe as far as Oso Flaco Lake Road. Take the road west all the way to the end, park in the state parks parking lot, and walk in...



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