Sunday, August 25, 2013

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Imagine a town that hasn't had a public library in 12 years.   Well, that is exactly what happened in Alexandriaville, Ohio.  But now, a new state-of-the-art library is about to open.  Not something that interested 12 year old Kyle Keeley until he learned that the library was built by none other than Mr. Luigi Lemoncello, his favorite game maker and Kyle loves to play games.

Now Mr. Lemoncello will host 12 kids, all age 12 to experience the library in all its technological, holographic glory in what amounts to an overnight library sleepover complete with games.   But the next day, Mr. Lemoncello makes them an offer (with parental permission, of course) no true blue game player could resist - A 24 hour Library Lock-In game in which the kids are challenged to figure out how to exit the library other that the way they came in or by using any of the emergency exits.  Naturally, there are hints scattered throughout the library, but first they must figure out how to find the hints.  And during the Lock-In, there is not contact with the outside world but there are additional Extreme Challenges for the hale and hearty where they either complete the challenge or are automatically sent home with some "lovely parting gifts."

The story is narrated by Kyle, a class clown and a crack game player and a pretty nice kid.  Along with him at the Library Lock-In are a diverse group, most of whom are out of the game almost before it begins.  Those left are Kyle's best friend Akimi Hughes, another ace game player; Haley Daley, the pretty cheerleader whose family is having financial problems; Miguel Fernandez, a nice kid and library geek who says "bro" a little too frequently; shy, bookish Sierra Russell and Charles Chiltington, rich, confident and suck up par excellence.  Akimi suggests that she and Kyle work together a la Survivor to solve the puzzle of how to exit the library until it is just the two of them left and they must compete with each other.  The other remaining players join them and soon it is Kyle's team against Charles Chiltington.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a fun book to read and there are enough clues, if you read carefully, to solve the puzzle along with the characters.  And if you really pay attention, maybe you can solve the puzzle that wasn't in the story but there is a clue about how to find it somewhere in the story.  I would read the Author's Note carefully for that one.

I liked the way a group of kids who didn't really know each other well could come together and work towards a goal.  Teamwork tells and it certainly does here.  I also like that a sense of responsibility and acts of kindness count in Mr. Lemoncello's library, as does treating people, even if they are only a holograph, with respect.  Score one for moral fiber!

Another nice touch - the number of favorite books that are mentioned throughout the novel and are the basis for some of Mr. Lemoncello's excellent puns.  Here is a book about a library and it truly celebrates books and reading.

Even if you don't like games (me!) or puzzles or ciphers (I love both), this is still a totally enjoyable book.  Think Survivor meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Night at the Museum meets Mr. Lemoncello.  You can't go wrong.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was received from the publisher.

There is a downloadable PDF study guide complete with Common Core Standards available HERE

Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday is a weekly event hosted by Shannon Messenger at Books, Ramblings and Other Shenegans


  1. Looks super interesting. I'm going to have to look for this one.

  2. Great review - I added it to my list...the summary also maybe reminds me of The Westing Game?

    Tales of a Bookworm

  3. Oh my gosh...will be sure to look for this one and get. it. for my library. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. Great review. This one has been on my future read list and you pushed it to the top.

  5. This book looks like great fun! We love books and the library - we'll have to check it out :)

  6. In the inaugural issue of Middle Shelf Magazine ( the author of this book will be interviewed and so will the cover artist, Gilbert Ford. Subscriptions to the magazine are free.

  7. I have heard so much about this book Alex, I have it on our must read shelf. Your review definitely confirm that this is a good pick. Thanks for sharing an excellent review on the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  8. I have a hard back copy signed by Chris himself lol.( long story why lol) I am about a third the way through. It is a well written story, but I feel like it is somewhat pitched out of the 9-12 age group with so many references that kids just would not get. So glad you enjoyed it, I will get back to it soon. Thanks for joining us on the Kid Lit blog hop

  9. Forget the kids - I want that book for MYSELF! Can't wait to see what Julie has to say about it. Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. :)


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