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Monday, March 7, 2016

"Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library" by Chris Grabenstein (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Chris Grabenstein's Official Website Here

OVERVIEW: 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.

FORMAT: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a children's mystery and adventure novel. It stands at 304 pages and was published by Random House Books for Young Readers on June 25, 2013.

ANALYSIS: While many authors have tried to capture the love that people had with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, most have failed. The books come across as overly quirky or weird, the characters are extremely flat, or the plot just isn't there. That was until I read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.  

Chris Grabenstein's children's novel Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a fun, modern Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It captures the fun innocence of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory without being what could only be defined as a knock-off version.

Reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library you will notice similar elements to the favored children's novel. There is the quirky, reclusive 'inventor' of sorts – Mr. Lemoncello, who can only be described as having the heart of a child and an obsession with reading. There is a huge modern library that has room after room filled with games, books, educational material, and lots of fun. And of course, there is the competition amongst grade-school children for the ultimate prize.

Chris Grabenstein could have easily taken these elements and mirrored them to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but he didn't. He made them his own. Yes, there are certain elements that are extremely similar, but they are unique enough that you don't feel like you are reading a poor attempt at creating a hit children's novel.

Now, you are probably wondering just how interesting a book can be when it takes place in a library. This is no ordinary library. There are virtual reality games, holographic images that can talk and interact with people, and lots of hidden passageways and secret rooms to be found.

There are two things I absolutely loved about Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library – the games and books! Even as an adult, I loved playing along with the game that the children in the book were playing. Some of the clues were obviously meant for young readers, but it was still fun. It gave the book a nice interactive feel without requiring me to use a computer or head to a website to play along (an all too common theme with children's books that try to be interactive).

Another element I loved was the book aspect. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library mentions several novels across all genres throughout the novel. I love it when authors do this, especially when done correctly. It shows an appreciation for previous authors, while introducing readers of all ages to different books/authors.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a fun, fast paced novel. It makes me really wish there was a library just like this one in real life. This may be a children's novel, but it will certainly be enjoyed by readers of all ages – especially if you are in need of a fast-paced, fun novel that isn't overly complex.


Unknown said...

I loved playing the game that the children's in the book were playing

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