WELCOME TO THE WONDERLAND–Beach Party Surf Monkey for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

P.T. (named after P.T. Barnum) returns as the hilarious narrator in the second book in the WELCOME TO WONDERLAND series. Earlier this year I raved about Book #1—Home Sweet Motel.

This is a totally new wacky adventure and reading the first is not a requirement but encouraged. You’ll quickly find out P.T. lives in The Wonderland Motel in St. Petersburg, Florida with his mom and grandpa. P.T. has a knack for talking and convincing people his stories are real. His best friend is Gloria, a business minded classmate.

The nasty owner of the resort next door wants to bulldoze The Wonderland and use it for a parking lot. He always gets his way, but maybe not this time. P.T. and Gloria convince a movie crew to film their retro 1960’s movie, Beach Party Surf Monkey, at Wonderland. They hope doing so will bring worldwide popularity to the motel and keep P.T.’s mom from selling out.

Of course problems arise with the monkey costar and a teen idol with a huge ego. It leads to lots of baloney, a smelly finale, and the promise of a third book, BANANA SHACK SHAKE-UP.

The 79 chapters—not a misprint—fly by and reluctant readers who are under the parental rule of reading one chapter a day this summer, won’t even notice they’ve read many more.

Silly and lighthearted makes for the perfect combination this summer. Check in for a few hours at The Wonderland and enjoy all the amenities like a fun, outrageous  story with many laugh out loud illustrations.



There’s always something wacky happening when you live in a motel, and P.T. (named after P. T. Barnum, of course) has grown up at the world’s wackiest! When word gets out that the hottest teen idols in Hollywood (plus current YouTube sensation Kevin the Monkey!) will be filming their next movie—Beach Party Surf Monkey—right in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida, P.T. and his friend Gloria know that the Wonderland would be the perfect location. Now they just have to convince the producers!

But when things start to go wrong (crazed fans? missing stars?), it will take all of Gloria’s business genius and P.T.’s wild stories to save the movie before both it and the Wonderland are all washed up!

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: WELCOME TO WONDERLAND: Beach Party Surf Monkey by Chris Grabenstein

  1. The extras in the back will keep readers amused until the next book comes out. P.T. WILKIES OUTRAGEOUSLY RIDICULOUS AND OCCASIONAL USEFUL STUFF is where you will find explanations of common movie terms and a fun movie quiz. Some smart marketing person decided to put the questions in the book but the answers on the author’s web page. A great way to move readers to other content.
  2. One major cliffhanger remains. Where is P.T.’s dad? Its something both P.T. and readers will hopefully find an answer to in the next book.
  3. Books with illustrations can often be hard to read as you go back and forth from words to drawings. Here though there is a nice balance and they seamlessly integrate with each other.
  4. Grandpa is the kind of grandpa every kid should have—always there when you need him.
  5. Nothing heavy here. Leave that to the many MG books dealing with those big issues. As I read the book on my porch it had me laughing, garnering a few extra looks from passing neighbors. I let them borrow my copy and now they’re the ones smiling.

FAVORITE LINE FROM P.T. as he leads the motel’s tram tour:

As people climbed aboard, I kept up my patter. “By the way, if you lost a roll of fifty twenty-dollar bills wrapped in a red rubber band over by the concession stand, please let me know. I’ve got great news. We found your rubber band.”

FROM Mr. Grabenstein’s WEBSITE:
Yes, like we said, Chris is always writing! This morning, he wrote a grocery list, a note to his wife, J.J., and a letter to Santa Claus. It’s never too early.


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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9 Responses to WELCOME TO THE WONDERLAND–Beach Party Surf Monkey for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sounds like an entertaining book. P.T. sounds like a great character. This is the perfect fun summer read for kids. Nice review. I smiled.

  2. This sounds like a perfect beach read–for kids or adults! I love that line you shared, too. May be looking for an opportunity to use it. 😉

    Thanks for the recommend, and happy MMGM!

  3. cleemckenzie says:

    I’ve seen a lot of books by this author and they always seem so happy and exciting. This one sounds like it is, too.

  4. danielle hammelef says:

    I saw this book featured on another blog and it looks fun. I love the $20 quote–so hilarious! I read that you won a copy of Kate DiCamillo’s book from Rosie. Congrats! Can’t wait to read it myself as she is one of my favorite authors (I sat front row at an SCBWI conference while she talked and hung on every word).

  5. I love books with cool grandparents. I love the term “surf monkey.” Cracks me up. I will be looking for this one. Thanks for the post.

  6. Violet Tiger says:

    I love Chris Grabenstein’s books, so I will add this to my TBR list! Thanks for pointing it out to me. I love the quote.

  7. Sue Kooky says:

    Oh my Gods this sounds absolutely insane! Like…a motel, a parking lot, a movie and a monkey superstar? Only Chris Grabenstein could put this together. Thanks for the recommendation!

  8. Susan says:

    I think a lot of reluctant readers will be drawn in by the monkey! Siunds really fun.

  9. Andrea says:

    You always find really fun sounding books!

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