Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sandapalooza Shake-Up (Welcome to Wonderland #3)

36082854Grabenstein, Chris. Sandapalooza Shake-Up (Welcome to Wonderland #3)
May 22nd 2018 by Random House
Copy provided by the publisher

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.
Strengths: Grabenstein really understands how to write interesting and well-developed mysteries that are amusing and not overly complicated. Are the books great literature? No. Are they fun to read? Yes. I love the Florida motel setting, the mother and grandfather are especially great, and there is goofiness aplenty. Great series for summer reading!
Weaknesses: Paper over board cover wear horribly, and the evil characters are a bit over the top. Conch's moves in this book were overly criminal, which was a bit jarring given the general goofiness of the story. This might be something that strikes me more as an older reader and might not matter as much to younger ones.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. The bright, cheerful covers alone are worth the price!

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