What I love most about this author’s work is his innate sense of humor and the way he uses dialogue to express his characters’ personalities. The Floor Below is about two brothers, Robin and Kai, who are eleven and eight years old. On the very first page the boys are walking through the woods, seeking adventure, when the youngest suddenly states that he misses his mommy.
“I know,” says the older brother. “But we still have to keep going. Remember we’re out here on an adventure. You’re going to have to get used to it.”
Right off the bat, readers can relate and sympathize.
Another of my favorite exchanges comes later in the book, when an adventure really has presented itself, and the boys are trying to help their father who, it turns out, actually runs an international high-tech spy organization. (How cool would it be to discover your dad worked as a spy for a living?!)
A bad guy has stolen the company website password—which the dad had written on a Post-in note like any of us might do—and now the dad is in danger of losing his company.
But no smart, tech-savvy company leader would have only one password, right? The dad explains: “You do also need a fingerprint password and an audio password, and then you have to type the password ‘sPy DominAtion gti’. Then you can control the company.”
“That sounds like a lot of codes to me,” Kai says.
“Yeah, I think it would be like a one in a hundred chance that he [the bad guy] could figure that out,” Robin says.
“Yes, I guess I was just thinking negatively. But now I don’t have the first password,” says their dad. “I put another copy somewhere. I just don’t remember where I put it.”
“Dad, you’re in a pickle,” Kai says.
“NOT helping, Kai!” Robin says. “Well, maybe you’ll find it. Stuff sometimes does just turn up.”
“And sometimes it doesn’t,” Kai says.
“Still NOT helping, Kai,” Robin says.
That’s just great dialogue! The Floor Below is firmly grounded in “this-could-really-happen” action, and is full of high-tech gadgets, computer viruses, ninja sneaking, and healthy snacks. It’s family fun for readers of all ages!