A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Home Sweet Motel kicks off the Welcome to Wonderland series about an imaginative 11-year-old boy who lives in a down-on-its-luck motel run by his single mom and grandfather. Written by Chris Grabenstein (Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library), it's packed with humor and heart. P.T. doesn't know anything about his father but feels his absence keenly. Another character has a dead parent, and there's a backstory involving a character who died in prison. P.T. and his friend Gloria have some perilous encounters with two elderly criminals and a thuggish private investigator, but goofy touches keep these scenes more fun than frightening.
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What's the story?
P.T. Wilkie, 11, has a knack for storytelling -- a gift he inherited from his grandfather, who built the Wonderland, which P.T. calls HOME SWEET MOTEL. When he learns that a looming mortgage payment could force his family to sell the Wonderland to a scheming developer, P.T. rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. He and Gloria, a young, business-savvy friend, come up with new attractions to lure paying guests. Two new guests, they soon realize, are actually jewel thieves whose stolen loot has been missing for more than 40 years. If Gloria and P.T. can find the jewels before the brothers do, they just might be able to save the motel.
Is it any good?
A warm but wacky setting, diverse and appealing characters, and a satisfying puzzle come together beautifully in this cheerful start to a new series from I Funny co-author Chris Grabenstein. Home Sweet Motel: Welcome to Wonderland has an old-fashioned charm with a cheeky, modern feel. Grabenstein pays homage to kitschy roadside Americana and winking hucksterism. Though a handful of cartoonish criminals slouch through the story, the real villain is the sneering, no-nonsense teacher Mr. Frumpkes.
P.T. and his family are close-knit and proud of what they've accomplished, kooky as it may appear to others. Aspiring entrepreneurs will appreciate P.T.'s ability to sell a good story and the business lessons he and Gloria learn (including the need for a steady flow of new ideas and the fact that businesses have neighbors, too). Plentiful illustrations by Brooke Allen (Lumberjanes) woven into the story add to the fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about tall tales in Home Sweet Motel. P.T. spins some fantastic tales -- often to entertain, but sometimes to further his own goals. What's the difference between a lie and a tall tale? Are all of P.T.'s stories harmless?
P.T. says every story needs a plan. What does he mean by that?
P.T. and his grandfather focus on gimmicks to market their hotel. What kind of gimmicky attractions have you enjoyed visiting?
- Author: Chris Grabenstein
- Illustrator: Brooke Allen
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: October 4, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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