First line: "This is how Kyle Keeley got grounded for a week."
Chris Grabenstein has certainly been making a name for himself in the middle grade reading world. Of course regular visitors here know I'm a fan of his John Ceepak adult mystery series. When I read the description of his newest middle grade novel, I knew I'd have to give it a spin.
Kyle Keeley is a twelve-year-old boy who loves games: board games, video games, card games, you name it. He doesn't, however, have a huge interest in reading; he can't understand why his classmate Sierra always has her nose buried in a book. But when Kyle learns that the master of game creators, Luigi Lemoncello has contracted the renovation and re-opening of the Alexandriaville Public Library he's intrigued. And he's even more interested when he learns 12 students from his class will be chosen to spend the night in the library and experience all the magic that is Mr. Lemoncello's Library. What none of the children know is that their entry into the library is also their entry into the ultimate library escape game.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is filled with allusions to gads and gads of wonderful children's books. Adults reading will enjoy uncovering them as much as younger readers will. As a former teacher, I couldn't help but think of all the ways the book could be used in the classroom, but there's no reason parents couldn't do some of the same projects while reading the book with their children--making learning fun on the sly. And this book is an excellent book to read as a family or out loud to each other.
Young readers who fancy games will find themselves caught up in the clues and the race that Kyle and his friends are experiencing. It's enhanced by the imagery of the library's descriptions--every child's dream, no matter what he/she prefers: video games, television, books, comics...Mr. Lemoncello's Library has it all, even a cafe!
Themes of learning, teamwork and acceptance hover in the background, but the ultimate idea is valuing libraries. No matter what age, we can all be reminded of that from time to time.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a gem of a read for adults and children alike. So find your favorite middle grader and settle in together and enjoy an exciting game of reading. Or if you're short one middle grader, don't worry, you can enjoy it all by yourself. Do not pass go; do not collect $200; just go straight to Lemoncello's Library.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780375870897) from Random House Books for Young Readers.