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Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library Paperback – June 24, 2014
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2013: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is part Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, part A Night in the Museum, and a whole lot of fun. When the eccentric inventor of video and board games returns to his hometown to build a library the likes of which has never been seen, he brings with him the most spectacular puzzler of them all. Seventh grader Kyle Keeley wants, more than anything, to be the winner of Mr. Lemoncello’s latest challenge but it will take skill, wit, and ultimately teamwork to come out on top. With a delightful cast of characters and the homey feel of family game night, Chris Grabenstein’s novel mimics elements of two beloved classics but stands on its own merit as a sure fire winner with young readers. --Seira Wilson --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
*Starred Review* Here’s an instantly engaging and wildly creative mystery that is sure to have readers looking at their humble local library in a new light. Mr. Lemoncello is an eccentric game designer who has just funded a very special new library in his hometown. In honor of the grand opening, Lemoncello has selected a dozen 12-year-olds to participate in an overnight lock-in event at the library. But when the kids wake up, they discover a new and unexpected game is afoot: whoever can find a way out of Mr. Lemoncello’s library will win the grand prize. Avid readers will get a kick out of the references to classic and current children’s literature as the kids solve clues to escape and win the game. Main character Kyle Keeley works hard to beat his nemesis, the conniving bully Charles Chilington, who constantly reminds everyone that he is always successful. As Lemoncello says, knowledge not shared remains unknown, and the group learns that working together just might be the key to solving the mystery. An ode to libraries and literature that is a worthy successor to the original madman riddle master himself, Willy Wonka. Grades 4-7. --Sarah Bean Thompson --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Yes, the comparison to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is obvious, and the book has the same sense of goofy fun, but because the setting is a library rather than a candy factory there is much more opportunity for referencing the deep well of children's literature, which can only enrich the story. And with funding for libraries decreasing it's nice to see a book that shows such an obvious love for the institution and its practitioners; the book is even dedicated to librarians and several are mentioned in the Acknowledgments.
I love the plot and the setting and the intent of the book, but there are problems with the book too. I'd say the worst flaw is that the characters are rather cliched and not very deep. Maybe that's what the author wanted and maybe it's more enjoyable for middle schoolers, the intended audience, but I thought this was a missed opportunity to improve on Dahl's popular novel. For instance, there's a girl who reads ALL THE TIME, even skipping meals and conversation. She's the only kid who has no parent to see her off or greet her at the end of the adventure. Why? Where's her mom and dad? Is she antisocial or just incredibly into reading. It might have been better to have fewer kids but get to know them better, but then again perhaps this is unfair criticism -- and I admit it -- I have had the great misfortune of reading this as an adult. I bet if was twelve I'd absolutely adore it. It has books and a fantastical library and a scavenger hunt, even danger and mischief. I would recommend this to middle school readers. I would give it as a gift, and I will read the sequel. I just wish it had been a bit .. more.
The puzzles were okay but repetitive, and the many references to children's books were too often superficial, on the level of puns. I have nothing against puns, and I'm sure lots of middle school readers want silly goofy puns, but again I think it's a missed opportunity to step it up a bit, and make it more entertaining to kids who've probably seen Dora the Explorer and Star Wars. Also problematic is that a lot of the cultural references were amazingly dated, and improbable points of reference for today's kids.
I liked this book and loved the message. We even get a few lessons in the Dewey Decimal system, and what's not to love about that. Kyle gradually gets to like reading .. yay!
There is also a bonus puzzle and a discussion with the author, and I appreciate the effort, though mention was made of a list of all the books referenced and I would have liked to have seen this but didn't. I'll look again.
Don't hold the fact against him that Mr. Grabenstein used to write in James Patterson's book factory. We found this book to be an absolutely delightful, engaging read. Grabenstein is clearly big on libraries as centers of discovery, learning and community. Twelve twelve-year-olds, who have never been in a library due to their town's library being torn down twelve years ago, compete to go to the grand opening of Mr. Lemoncello's library. Once there, they find themselves locked in and are told that their goal is to use the library and all its resources to discover a hidden exit for a grand prize. Mr. Lemoncello is a great game-maker and some of the clues come from his games, while others come from the ten Dewey Decimal Rooms, a holographic librarian and holographic creatures, and pictograms hidden in books.
Grabenstein cleverly reinforces the idea that reading is, itself, a rewarding activity, and those who take time to focus on the process are rewarded more than those who try to take short cuts. He also emphasizes such values as loyalty, team-work, and respect. Titles of many famous children's books are sprinkled throughout Mr. Lemoncello's conversations and the clues. There is also a puzzle not in the story that can be solved and sent into Mr. Grabenstein for a chance to win two libraries of books. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a fast read. Mr. Grabenstein also does a very good job of creating distinct characters. None of the kids feels like a carbon copy of the other; they're all fleshed out in ways that help you get a sense of what motivates them.
This story of 12 kids who get to spend the night the the new library and are then invited to compete in a game where they must "escape" within 24 hours to win a fabulous prize is one that will surely be a favorite of kids everywhere. It is already one of my favorites. I can't wait to re-read it.
I plan to use this book in the coming school year with my 4th and 5th grade classes. Whether we use it as a "book club" or a "read aloud", I know they will love it.
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I enjoyed reading this book so much that I didn't want to finish itRead more