‘Welcome to Wonderland: Home Sweet Motel’ by Chris Grabenstein is a funny, clever middle grade mystery

wonderland

“Welcome to Wonderland: Home Sweet Motel” is by Chris Grabenstein, the popular middle grade author of “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” and “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics.” In this new novel, Grabenstein tells the story of P. T. Wilkie, a middle school teller of tall tales.

P. T. lives with his grandfather and his mother at the family motel in Florida. His grandfather is a very quirky character. He created the Wonderland Motel in St. Petersburg, Florida, as a theme park with rides and exhibits. Unfortunately for the grandfather (and the family), another theme park opened shortly after and became much more popular. It was called Disneyland.

But P.T.’s grandfather hasn’t given up. He offers free soft-serve ice cream to motel guests and tries to think of other ways to attract customers. When events happen that mean that the family might lose the motel, P.T. decides to solve a decades-old mystery and claim a reward.

When Gloria Ortega and her newscaster father move into the motel, P.T. has a friend to help him with his investigation.

The book is filled with tall tales, drawings, adventure, lots ofmotel humor and a happy ending. It’s also about financial woes, the importance of family, single-parent families, and friendship. What could be better?

The story is based on Grabenstein’s memories of spending summers at a motel in St. Pete’s. In fact, the motel in the story is based on the actual motel that Grabenstein and his family stayed at!

Listen to an audio excerpt of the story. Read the first five chapters here.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher for review purposes.