Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun, creative story for kids of all ages
Cons: Set up a tad slow but still entertaining
The Bottom Line:
Filled with clues and mysteries
Great escape for us
No Reason to Escape from This Fun Book
Since I loved Chris Grabenstein’s mysteries written for adults, I’ve followed him to his middle grade books. Still, I allowed myself to get behind on them, which means I am finally getting to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, which came out a couple of years ago. I’d heard nothing but great things about the book, and the book deserves that praise.
Kyle Keeley loves games, especially those created by Mr. Lemoncello. He’s less excited by books and the new library that is opening in town even though his town has been without a library for 12 years. In fact, he’s completely blown off the contest that allows 12 twelve-year-olds early access to the library – until he learns that Mr. Lemoncello has put up the funds for the new library.
When Kyle and a couple of friends make the final cut for the preview, he is thrilled. However, their overnight lock in takes an unexpected twist when they learn the next morning they are still locked in to the library. If they can figure out clues hidden all over the library, they will win this unexpected contest. But will they find the escape route the clues lead them to before the deadline?
Now here’s where I have a confession to make. I’m horrible at puzzles. Yes, I love mysteries but I hate puzzles. Go figure. I just don’t have the patience to sit and figure them out. We are given the same clues the kids in the book are, but here’s the best part. If we don’t want to figure them out, we can just keep reading. The characters do it for us! However, if you want to solve the puzzles, you can do that along the way before the characters tell you what they really mean.
Yet they don’t spend too much time on the individual puzzles since the plot is fast moving. True, the set up takes a bit more time at the beginning than I would have liked, but it was still entertaining. And once the contest is officially under way, hold on because it’s a page turner to reach the end. And yes, all the clues do make sense when they are explained to us.
The characters have just enough depth to make us care about the outcome, but none of them are too deep. Still, they work well enough for this story, and I doubt the target audience will really care or notice.
Honestly, the book reminds me of a modern day Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in many ways, including how much I enjoyed it. There are plenty of differences, too, and just like that chocolate factory, I’d also love to visit this library in real life.