I’ve been zipping through some books aimed at kids lately (because let’s be honest, they’re often far more fun than adult books), and the latest was Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein.
“Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.
Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.
In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience.”
This was light read that I finished in one sitting. The jacket description is a little misleading. The doors to the library do remain locked after the sleep over/ lock in is finished, but the children are all given the option to leave if they wish, the alternative being to stay and solve a puzzle to figure out a way out of the library and win prizes. Which most of them do because super cool puzzle in an awesome library with prizes? Yes please.
I had a lot of fun reading along as the characters uncovered clues and trying to figure them out before they did (hint: I mostly was unsuccessful. I am not in fact smarter than a seventh grader). I did read a review that criticized the book for not going deeply into the character’s personalities, which it did not, but personally I didn’t feel like delving deeply into the personalities of the characters was necessary for the story Grabenstein was telling. We got enough information to getting a sense of the people in the story and the focus was really on the mystery and puzzling solving. It was a fast paced mix between The Westing Game and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I preferred it to either of those.
Seeing the kids’ interest in what their library had to offer and growing excitement about reading was one of my favorite elements. There were also lots of great messages for readers about teamwork, honesty, and the joy of reading. Although the book is aimed at kids, there are plenty of literary references to keep older readers amused too. There’s also a bonus puzzle featured for the reader to solve and I won’t tell you the answer but I was hooked enough that I did sit down to solve it. I’m already a huge reading and library fan, but man do I wish I could visit Mr. Lemoncello’s library.
Stay magical readers!