Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
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.
When the jacket flap of a YA book says something like “the stakes have never been higher,” it is usually a life or death situation. Not so with Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. It is a middle grade novel, so the protagonist Kyle is 12 and there is no violence, sex, or even peril. The plot is simply a group of kids playing a game and piecing together clues to escape from a very high tech library.
Am I making the book sound boring? I hope not.
The book is a puzzler (a sub-genre of mystery books) and so if you enjoy figuring out clues this is a very enjoyable and easy read. Grabenstein does a phenomenal job of mixing in board game and video game strategies and adds a truly impressive amount of references to famous works of children’s literature.
A well written mystery, and especially a well written puzzler leads the reader along and allows them to solve the mystery just before the characters do. It is quite difficult to do, yet Grabenstein does it very well.
My main criticism is that the characters were not well developed, though I have to admit that it is rather common in puzzle mysteries. Everything is secondary to the clues, and the clues in Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library are top notch.