My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an altogether fun read!
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.