Welcome to Wonderland #3: Sandapalooza Shake-Up

 
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Welcome to Wonderland #3: Sandapalooza Shake-Up
Age Range
8+
Release Date
May 22, 2018
ISBN
978-1524717582
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Life's a vacation when you live in the world's wackiest motel! P.T. and his best friend, Gloria, are getting ready for St. Pete Beach's first-ever Sandapalooza! The Wonderland's biggest rival, the Conch Reef Resort, is doing everything it can to win the sand sculpture contest, but P.T. has bigger problems: The Wonderland has opened a new restaurant--the Banana Shack--and running a restaurant is harder than it looks! And to make matters worse, a royal guest's priceless tiara has gone missing, and the prime suspect is the Wonderland's beloved housekeeper! Can P.T. and Gloria win the contest, keep the restaurant going, and clear Clara's name?

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Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
P.T. and Gloria have saved the Wonderland Motel, and now because of the celebrity tie-in with the Surf Monkey movie, the family of the Marquess of Hereferrshire is staying with them while they visit Disney World to loan the Twittleham Tiara to the theme park to display in the castle. The family, especially the young daughter, Lady Lilly, are all fairly snooty, but P.T. is so busy with the new motel restaurant and a sand castle competition that he doesn't give her much thought. The motel has sponsored a sand sculpting team consisting of Travis and Darryl to give the motel good advertising, and they do a great job. When the Twittleham Tiara is stolen, however, the reliable business of the motel starts to falter. The royals move out, and the Conch resort starts an ugly smear campaign saying that the Wonderland is not a safe place to stay. Blame falls on several employees, including a housekeeper and the cook in the new restaurant. With a reduced staff, everyone must kick in, which leads to less time to investigate the crime. P.T. and Gloria are on the case, and P.T. is also investigating whether Travis might be his father. In the end, they manage to figure out the theft, which has deeper roots than one might expect.
Good Points
Grabenstein really understands how to write interesting and well-developed mysteries that are amusing and not overly complicated. There is the underlying mystery about P.T.'s missing father, which is dealt with in an interesting fashion and isn't completely solved yet. Characters from other books make an appearance, which is an interesting touch and gives us other potential suspects. The theft of a tiara is serious enough to warrant thorough investigation, but not as gruesome as a murder, and the proprietors of the Conch are always suspect!

Yes. I love the Florida motel setting, with it's kitschy decorations and goofy specials. The addition of the Banana Shack restaurant is a great addition, because tweens love to read about food! The mother and grandfather are especially great, and there is goofiness aplenty despite the realistic touches of the hotel struggling financially. Given the holiday feel of the setting, this is a great series for summer reading!

The only down side is that the title isn't quite as catchy as the previous book, Beach Party Surf Monkey.
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