Home sweet motel

Chris Grabenstein

Book - 2016

"P.T. and his friend Gloria must solve a mystery at the world's wackiest motel: The Wonderland"--

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jFICTION/Grabenstein, Chris
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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jFICTION/Grabenstein, Chris Due Jul 5, 2024
New York : Random House [2016]
Main Author
Chris Grabenstein (author)
Other Authors
Brooke Allen (illustrator)
First Edition
Item Description
Look inside for extra fun activities.
Physical Description
284 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

It doesn't look good for the Wonderland, an aging Florida motel with plenty of vacancies, some decrepit amusement-park statues, and a $100,000 bank loan coming due in 30 days. The foreclosure news jolts 11-year-old P. T. After all, his grandfather opened the motel way back in 1970. His single mother manages it now, and it's not just their workplace; it's their home. Better known for telling tall tales than for getting things done, P. T. teams up with Grandpa and Gloria, a financial whiz kid, to carry out several get-rich-quick schemes to save the Wonderland. In the end, the key to solvency turns out to be an even more unlikely outwit-the-stupid-crooks-and-collect-the-reward subplot. This appealing chapter book offers an original setting, a mystery, and some colorful characters. Illustrated with cartoon-style black-and-white illustrations, complete with speech balloons, P. T.'s very readable first-person narrative has a comic tone reminiscent of Jacky Ha-Ha (2016), which Grabenstein cowrote with James Patterson. More adventures and fun are sure to follow in the Wonderland series. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Sharing spotlights with Patterson has paid off for Grabenstein: a month-by-month promo plan hitting everything from trade shows to summer camps will keep this in the spotlight.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Wisecracking 12-year-old P.T. Wilkie loves the Wonderland Motel in Florida, where he lives with his business-minded mother and fun-loving, fast-talking grandfather, who originally opened the motel. P.T. takes after his grandfather, who has a gift for tall tales and affection for the "zany decorations" adorning the property, but it's going to take more than wild stories to save the financially troubled Wonderland. Enter Gloria Ortega, who checks into the hotel with her father and shares her business smarts with P.T., leading to money-making ventures that include karaoke performances featuring the motel's frog-shaped waterslide. When two elderly jewel thieves show up to find diamonds they lost at Wonderland decades earlier, P.T. and Gloria realize that this could be their chance to save Wonderland. Lumberjanes contributor Allen's lively cartoons are a perfect fit for Grabenstein's (Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics) quirky, upbeat romp, which is filled with mystery, danger, and laughs. P.T.'s longing for his absent father and his unflagging optimism make him a sympathetic narrator that will leave readers looking forward to the next installment in this new series. Ages 8-12. Author's agent: Eric Myers, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Eleven-year-old P.T. Wilkie narrates this series starter. He lives at the Wonderland Motel in St. Pete's Beach, FL. His grandfather, Walt, founded the hotel in 1970 and did well until another Walt opened Disney World a year later. The Wilkies have been struggling to remain open ever since. P.T. always looks on the bright side. He doesn't push his single mom about who his dad is, he's close to his grandfather, and he thinks motel living, with its free ice cream and housekeeping, is just great. He's also an irrepressible storyteller, much to the chagrin of his neighbor and history teacher, Mr. Frumpkes. Unfortunately, his idyllic life is about to change in a month's time, thanks to a balloon loan coming due. His mom and grandpa need to come up with $100,000. The only way to do that is to sell the Wonderland to a sleazy developer. P.T. joins forces with Gloria Ortiz, a guest who happens to be a business whiz. As the two listen to Mr. Wilkie's tales about the early days of the Wonderland, they come up with a series of money-making ideas to save it. Complicating matters are a pair of elderly brothers who are not what they appear to be. This is classic Grabenstein-there are lots of sly asides and a tongue-in-cheek tone; a spirited, wise-guy hero in P.T.; a fast pace that edges a bit over-the-top; a vividly kitschy setting; and cartoon-style black-and-white illustrations throughout. The mystery should satisfy Grabenstein's "Mr. Lemoncello" followers, and the humor and visuals will appeal to fans of his collaborations with James Patterson. VERDICT This new series should be a hit among a variety of readers.-Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

1   Gator Tales    Like I told my friends at school, living in a motel is always exciting--especially during an alligator attack.    "To this day, nobody knows how that giant alligator made it up to the second-floor balcony of my family's motel on St. Pete Beach," I told my audience.   The cafeteria was so quiet you could've heard a taco shell snap.    "Maybe it took the steps. Maybe it just stood up, locked its teeth on a porch railing, and flipped itself up and over in a mighty somersault swoop. The thing was strong, people. Very, very strong.    "I heard Clara, my favorite housekeeper, scream, '¡Monstruo, Señor Wilkie! ¡Monstruo!'   "'Run!' I shouted, because Clara's always been like a second mom to me and I wanted her to be alive enough to see her daughter graduate from med school.    "Well, she didn't need me to shout it twice. Clara abandoned her laundry cart while that alligator raced toward the room at the far end of the balcony. And I knew why: the chicken.   "See, the family in room 233--a mom, a dad, two kids, and a baby--had just gone upstairs with a whole bucket of the stuff. Heck, I could smell it twenty doors down. The giant alligator? He smelled that secret blend of eleven herbs and spices all the way back at his little lake on the Bayside Golf Course, where, legend has it, he's chomped off a few ball divers' arms.   "Thinking fast and running faster, I made it to Clara's deserted laundry cart. I grabbed a few rolls of toilet paper and lobbed them like hand grenades. The T.P. conked the gator on his head just as he was about to chomp through the terrified family's door.    "That's when the giant lizard whipped around. He looked at me with those big bowling-ball eyes. Forget the chicken. He wanted me! He roared like smelly thunder and sprinted down the balcony.    "I just grinned. Because the gator was doing exactly what I wanted him to do. While he barreled ahead on stubby legs, I braced my feet on the bumper of the laundry cart. I lashed several towels together to create a long terry-cloth lasso. I twirled it over my head. I waited for my moment.    "When the gator was five, maybe six, feet away, I flung out my towel rope, aiming for his wide-open mouth. He clamped down. I tugged back. My lasso locked on a jagged tooth. 'Hee-yah!' I shouted. 'Giddyup!' The monster took off.    "What happened next, you wonder? Well, I rode that laundry cart all the way back to the crazy alligator's golf course, where I sent the gator scurrying down into its water hazard. 'And stay away from our motel,' I hollered, and I guess that gator listened, because he's never dared return."    When I finished, everyone applauded, even Ms. Nagler, the teacher on cafeteria duty. She raised her hand to ask a question.    "Yes, ma'am?"    "How'd you and the alligator get down from the second floor?"    I winked. "One step at a time, Ms. Nagler. One step at a time."    She, and everybody else, laughed.    Yep, everybody at Ponce de León Middle School loves a good P. T. Wilkie story.    Except, of course, Mr. Frumpkes.    He came into the cafeteria just in time to hear my big finish.    And like always, he wasn't smiling.      2  Truth and Consequences      "Mr. Wilkie?" Mr. Frumpkes had his hands on his hips and his eyes on me. "Lunch is over."    Right on cue, the bell signaling the end of lunch period started clanging.    Between you and me, I sometimes think Mr. Frumpkes has telepathic powers. He can make the class-change bell ring just by thinking about it.    "Ah," he said, clearly enjoying the earsplitting rattle and clanks. "Now we don't have to listen to any more of Mr. Wilkie's outrageously ridiculous tales!"    My first class right after lunch?    History with Mr. Frumpkes, of course.    He paced back and forth at the front of the room with his hands clasped behind his back.    "Facts are important, boys and girls," he said. "They lead us to the truth. Here at the Ponce de León Middle School, we have a motto: 'Vincit omnia veritas!' "    I couldn't resist making a wisecrack. "I thought our school motto was 'Go, Conquistadors!'"    Mr. Frumpkes stopped pacing so he could glare at me some more.    " 'Vincit omnia veritas' is Latin, Mr. Wilkie. It means 'The truth conquers all.'"    "So it is like 'Go, Conquistadors!' because conquistadors conquered stuff and--"    "I'm beginning to understand why your father never shows up at parent-teacher conferences, Mr. Wilkie."    Okay. That hurt. My ears were burning.    "But since Mr. Wilkie seems fixated on conquistadors," said Mr. Frumpkes, "here is everybody's brand-new homework assignment."    "Awww," groaned the whole classroom.    "Don't groan at me. Groan at your immature classmate! Thanks to Mr. Wilkie, you are all required to write a one-thousand-word essay filled with cold, hard facts about the man whom this middle school is named after: the famous Spanish conquistador Ponce de León. Your papers are due on Monday."    "Whoa," said my friend Pinky Nelligan. "Monday is the start of Spring Break."    "Fine," said Mr. Frumpkes. "Your papers are due tomorrow. Friday."    More groans.    "Let this be a lesson to you all: facts are more important than fiction."    I was about to disagree and tell Mr. Frumpkes that I think some stories have more power than all the facts you can find on Google.    But I didn't.    Because everybody in the classroom was making stink faces at me.      3  I Scream, You Scream      I refused to let Mr. Frumpkes win.    "Oh, before I forget--quick announcement: you guys are all invited to the Wonderland Motel after school today. My grandpa wants to try out his new outdoor ice-cream dispenser. The ice cream is free, limit one per guest."    The groans and moans of my classmates turned into whoops of joy. Mr. Frumpkes tried to restore order by banging on his desk with a tape dispenser.    "We're here to discuss history, Mr. Wilkie! Not free ice cream!"    But everybody loves free ice cream.    That's just a cold, hard fact.    Unless it's soft-serve.    Then it's kind of custardy.      4  Welcome to Wonderland      The Wonderland, the motel my family owns and operates on St. Pete Beach, used to be called Walt Wilkie's Wonder World.    It was a resort and small-time amusement park my grandfather opened back in October 1970--exactly one year before that other Walt opened Disney World over in Orlando.    "We had a very good year, P.T.," Grandpa always tells me. "A very good year."    Now the Wonderland is just a motel with a lot of wacky decorations and tons of incredible stories but not too many paying customers.    There's even a sausage-and-cheese-loving mouse out back named Morty D. Mouse. Grandpa was going to call him Mikey Mouse, but, well, like I said, Disney World opened.    My mom is the motel manager. I think that's why she frowns a lot and nibbles so many pencils. The Wonderland can "barely make ends meet," she tells me. Constantly. That means we'll never be rich hotel tycoons like the Hiltons, I guess.    Mom and I live in room 101/102, right behind the front desk. The lobby is our living room (complete with two soda machines, a snack pantry, and tons of brochures).    Grandpa lives in a one-bedroom apartment over the maintenance shed near the swimming pool.    He likes to tinker with his "attractions" back there. Right now, he is trying to fix up a smiling goober he bought from a "Hot Boiled Peanuts" stand in Georgia. He thinks with enough green, orange, and yellow paint, he can turn Mr. Peanut into some sort of smiling tropical fruit--like that's all the Wonderland needs to make it Florida Fun in the Sun magazine's "Hottest Family Attraction in the Sunshine State" (a title Grandpa really wants to snatch away from Disney World someday).    One thing's for sure: the Wonderland Motel is the best place a kid could ever live.    There's daily maid service. My toilet is sanitized for my protection.    We have more ice than Antarctica, plus free cable and HBO. Also, if you know how to bump the glass just right, you can score two bags of chips every time you buy one from the vending machine.    And now Grandpa's set up a soft-serve ice-cream dispenser poolside?   Yep. The Wonderland is kid heaven. There's always something wild 'n' wacky going on--which is just the way I like it. Excerpted from Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.