Bestselling author Chris Grabenstein on finding the perfect narrator for his Welcome to Wonderland series

Fans of Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, rejoice! Chris Grabenstein’s Welcome to Wonderland series is packed with fun-in-the-sun adventures…plus, there’s a monkey! The author shares how Bryan Kennedy perfectly captures the voice of P.T. Wilkie and the zany cast of characters in these laugh-out-loud audiobooks.

School Library Journal raves, “This is classic Grabenstein–there are lots of sly asides and a tongue-in-cheek tone…The mystery should satisfy Grabenstein’s Mr. Lemoncello followers…This new series should be a hit.”


by Chris Grabenstein

Author Chris Grabenstein

What was the hardest part of bringing the wacky world of my fun-in-the-sun WELCOME TO WONDERLAND series to life as an audiobook?

Finding the perfect narrator, of course!

Because the whole crazy story is told from the first person point of view. That means the audiobook narrator has to become the voice of P.T. Wilkie, my twelve-year-old storyteller extraordinaire.

When a book that was written in the first person POV (quick ELA refresher: that’s when the author writes as if he is a character telling a tale and uses the pronoun “I” a lot) becomes an audiobook it, basically, becomes one long monologue. Even the other characters are the main character’s interpretation of those characters (if that makes sense). That means you need a really good voice actor to pull it off and make it come to life.

Fortunately, the production crew at Listening Library hit audiobook casting gold with Bryan Kennedy, my favorite grown-up-who-sounds-like-an-enthusiastic-twelve-year-old narrator.

Bryan, of course, did the first book in the series, the Sid Fleischman Humor Award winner and New York Times bestseller WELCOME TO WONDERLAND: HOME SWEET MOTEL.

He was amazing in P.T.’s first adventure! Now he’s back for audiobook number two: WELCOME TO WONDERLAND: BEACH PARTY SURF MONKEY, which, by the way, includes a PDF of all the super cool illustrations from the printed book.

I first heard Bryan’s narration skills on the four Treasure Hunters audiobooks. That’s one of the illustrated series I co-author with James Patterson. And, yes, the Treasure Hunters tales are also told in the first person POV by a character named Bick Kidd, another, you guessed it, twelve-year-old boy.

It’s not easy finding an adult who can believably sound like a kid with a twelve-year-old’s innocence, humor, and sense of wonder. Bryan really delivers. If I hadn’t met him in person (and known he has over twenty years experience as a voice-over actor), I would swear he was me when I was in middle school.

In the second book of the Welcome to Wonderland series, BEACH PARTY SURF MONKEY, Bryan does an amazing job bringing P.T. and his good friend Gloria Ortega to life. He’s also amazing as Grandpa. Just wait until you hear him belch up a stink bomb after guzzling a can of Dr. Brown’s Cel Ray soda.

Yes, Cel Ray is celery-flavored soda pop. As P.T. says in the book “it tastes like a gassy version of those celery sticks nobody eats when they order Buffalo wings.” Grandpa Wilkie might be
the only person in America who actually drinks the stuff.

Bryan recreates the whole crazy cast of characters who descend on the Wonderland Motel when the hottest teen idols in Hollywood (plus current YouTube sensation Kevin the Monkey!) come to Florida to film BEACH PARTY SURF MONKEY – a remake of those classic 1960s, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello Beach Party movies. Bryan even sings a groovy version of the surf monkey song!

And, of course, Bryan brings the bad guys to life, too. In BEACH PARTY SURF MONKEY, we meet some new villains: The nefarious real estate tycoon Edward Conch and his scheming princess of a daughter, Veronica. The Conches would love to sabotage their neighbor’s movie shoot so they can take over the property, bulldoze down the motel, and put in a new parking lot.

“When a new book of mine comes out, the first thing I do is download the audiobook and listen to it during my morning jog. It unspools like a movie for the mind. Especially when an amazingly gifted narrator like Bryan Kennedy is that mental movie’s star!”

I hope you enjoy Bryan Kennedy’s performance of WELCOME TO WONDERLAND: BEACH PARTY SURF MONKEY as much as I do. You might just want to take his whole zany cast of characters along with you when you hit the road with your family this summer. The time will fly!

Author Chris Grabenstein

Praise for the Welcome to Wonderland series:

“This is classic Grabenstein–there are lots of sly asides and a tongue-in-cheek tone…The mystery should satisfy Grabenstein’s Mr. Lemoncello followers…This new series should be a hit.”—School Library Journal

“[A] delight. P.T. is a hoot and a half…The narrative springs to life as a funny, madcap dash…A funny and promising start to a new series.”—Kirkus Reviews on HOME SWEET MOTEL

“Complications arise, high jinks ensue, and laughs abound…A worthy sequel that improves upon the original and keeps the good times rolling.”—Kirkus Reviews on BEACH PARTY SURF MONKEY

“This appealing chapter book offers an original setting, a mystery, and some colorful characters.”—Booklist