Thursday, May 1, 2014

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Chris Grabenstein
3 / 5

Published 2013

First Sentence
"This is how Kyle Keeley got grounded for a week."
Publisher's Description:
A New York Times Bestseller

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.

Dear Reader,

I think I would have just loved this book when I was 8 years old.  Or maybe even 12, since that is the age of the characters in this book.  I did not realize it was a YA book until I had it in my hands (well, technically, on my Kindle).  I checked it out from our local library because I mean, c'mon, what librarian doesn't want to read a book about library adventures?!  And it was definitely an ode to libraries, which I did love.  Clearly the author is a fan.

As the description above confirms, my impression was that this was a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory homage, with a bit of The Westing Game thrown in (if I am recalling that old favorite correctly).  It was a fun romp through literature and knowledge that spanned the Dewey Decimal system, and I certainly didn't hate it - it was pretty exciting, for a novel meant for children.  If the puzzles had not been made so clear-cut for the young'uns, I probably would have LOVED it.  Not that I blame Mr. Grabenstein, of course!  I'm just saying.

The main character wasn't my favorite - he was kind of bland - but I did love how he came full-circle to realize the value (and fun!) of the library.  I wish all libraries could be so well designed (and so well funded)!  I loved the kooky character of Mr. Lemoncello, whose rags-to-riches story, a Carnegie nod of course, was made possible by his local library.  He became a famous game designer (of both the board and video types), which is why games are central part of this adventure novel.  And there were definitely some other characters who I just wanted to be friends with, such as Akimi and Sienna, the two whip-smart, book-loving girls.  Of course.  (Am I totally predictable?  Yeah...probably.)

I would definitely recommend this book to kids I know, and I might even buy a copy for my nieces or nephew in a few years.  It certainly strives to make the library a place that children would still want to visit in this day and age of Google and home entertainment, so I certainly loved its intent.  I really wanted to give it more stars, but I guess that my not 100% adoring it is the price I have to pay for being an adult.  Le sigh.

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