Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Library Game

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein is a fun new children’s book that has been on my reading list since its release. Not only is it about a library, but it also sounded like a fun mystery. Oh and on top of all that, it takes place in Ohio!

The town Kyle Keeley lives in has been without a library for twelve years. However, Mr. Lemoncello, a world famous eccentric game maker, provided the funds for a new library. This isn't a regular library, however. Mr. Lemoncello’s library has all sorts of tricks and treats up its sleeve. There are hologram statues, virtual librarians, game rooms, and shelves of books you have to use a conveyor to reach. For twelve lucky twelve year olds, they get the chance of a lifetime: to spend the night in the new library before anyone else. Kyle is picked as one of the lucky twelve and couldn't be more excited. He loves Mr. Lemoncello and has played his board games and video games all his life. So what could be more amazing than a night in the famous game maker’s library? Well what about a prize within a prize? When the lock in turns into a life sized game, Kyle and his friends must figure out how to escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s library in order to win a fabulous prize.

The best way I can describe this to you is as a mix between Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Westing Game. Mr. Lemoncello is indeed an eccentric character much like Willy Wonka. He’s a lovable man and throughout the book he continues using classic and popular children’s book titles in his speech, which I just loved. The references to classic books, is a great way to make children aware of old favorites while they’re reading this book. The novel really felt like promotional material for libraries, which I don’t have a problem with, but the ending lines of the book were a bit cheesy. If I recall correctly it was basically, you already won your prize because now you have access to the library. Even I, a proud librarian, was rolling her eyes. The mysteries that the kids had to solve were tough, but the reader could also play along on some of them and try to solve the riddles. The characters, as in most children’s books were relatively two dimensional. There was the bratty girl and the rich kid along with the regular kids, like Kyle.

This book could be great. I think the premise is wonderful and the plot moves you along, but there is a large problem I see with this book; there’s too much reference to modern technology. There’s no better way to date yourself than putting in a bunch of technology that is sure to be out of style in a year’s time. The author could easily have left out these references and the book wouldn't have lost any of its value. I would still suggest you read this if you enjoy children’s literature, just do so within the next few years.

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