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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Grabenstein)

Title: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Author: Grabenstein
Genre: Fiction, Games, Libraries, Reading, Friendship, Mysteries
Pages: 291
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Ages: 4th-8th grades (and fans of children's literature of any age)

If you've been keeping up here on the blog, you know that my reading the past couple of weeks have fallen into two categories: (1) books not-yet-published which I LOVE but don't want to review until you can get your hands on a copy also; or (2) books already published that I feel are "meh" and don't feel excited enough about to review. 

Finally, I have found a book that is already published AND that I liked...a lot.

From the Publisher: 
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.

It only takes about 10 pages to figure out why I love this book so much. Libraries, board games, contests, riddles, library lock-ins, a continual references to many of my favorite books. This is a no-brainer for me. However, I do think that this book is definitely deserving of all of it's "starred" reviews, and will likely be on several "Top 10" lists at the end of the year.

As the main character, Kyle is a clever, likeable guy with a good sense of humor. It is obvious that he has friends. But, he's also kind of a slacker and yet super-competitive when it comes to games (is it possible to be a slacker and super-competitive? I'm not sure that even makes sense, but it is what it is). I think he is a narrator that kids can relate to, and would probably want to be friends with. I like how he leads a group of kids to band together to solve the puzzle so that they can win as a group. Teamwork is everything.

Imagine that you took "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Night at the Museum," "The Westing Game," "From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," and a host of titles by Blue Balliett and put them in a box and shook vigorously. The result would be this terrific adventure from Grabenstein. Luigi Lemoncello is very much a modern-day Willy Wonka, who is determined to pay tribute to his favorite childhood librarian. But to credit all these works that have gone before would be to do a disservice to the inventive tale that the author has given us. 

Obviously the crowd for the book is supposed to be the tween/teen group, and I already purchased a copy for my library. However, with so many references (and groan-worthy puns) to some of the best that children's literature has to offer, this is one that grown-ups will also enjoy as it will remind them of their childhood. A fun read for the whole family!

P.S. If there really is a Mr. Lemoncello out there, have I got some ideas for how we could make the Evergreen Library even better! You and I could have a lot of fun putting our ideas into action.

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