Review of 'Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library'
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
By Chris Grabenstein, 2013, Random House
Middle Grade, Mystery, Humor
Rating: 👻👻👻👻 (4 out of 4 boos)
“Can twelve 12-year-olds escape from the most ridiculously brilliant library ever created?
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library plunks a dozen sixth-graders into the middle of a futuristic library for a night of nonstop fun and adventure.
In a nod to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this fast-paced new novel features an eccentric billionaire who welcomes a group of children into a fantasy setting full of weird, wondrous touches.
Kyle is a game fan—board games, word games, and especially video games! Kyle’s hero, the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello, is the genius behind the design of the town’s new public library, which contains not only books, but an IMAX theater, an electronic learning center, instructional holograms, interactive dioramas and electromagnetic hover ladders that float patrons up to the books they want.
Lucky Kyle wins a spot as one of the first twelve kids invited to a gala, overnight library lock-in filled with...fun and games. But the next morning, when the lock-in is supposed to be over, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the others must follow book-related clues and unravel all sorts of secret puzzles to find the hidden escape route if they want to win Mr. Lemoncello’s most fabulous prize ever.”
What’s the main character like?
Although there are a few switches in point of view, twelve-year-old Kyle is our protagonist. He’s full of energy and has plenty of tricks up his sleeves from loving games so much. My two favorite qualities about him are his kindness to his friends and his growing appreciation for books.
How scary is it?
Well...not at all. I thought Mr. Lemoncello was going to be a bit more villainous, or at least a little devious (kind of like Willy Wonka was, you know?), but he was just life-loving and quirky. The mystery of the puzzles and the competition among the different kids was sometimes tense but mostly just fun and exciting.
Who might like this book?
There are a lot of obvious choices here. Fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, people who appreciate games, people who like funny books, people who like upbeat books. As Kyle himself brought up, there is also an echo of Night at the Museum. I was also reminded of Jumanji (the old one because I haven’t seen the new one yet!).
What did I like best?
Among other games, there is a rebus puzzle that the kids have to solve, and as a reader, you get a chance to solve it before getting the answer. Rather than disrupting my flow of reading, I felt even more engaged, like I was right alongside the kids, helping them figure out the clues. Very fun!
What wasn’t my favorite?
My initial disappointment with Mr. Lemoncello not being villainous evaporated rather quickly.