August 1, 2013
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Kyle Keeley has two older brothers — a brain and a jock. With competition like that, Kyle has to be willing to do anything to win. A lucky dice roll or drawing just the right card from the deck can give you what you need to win if you are willing to take advantage of it although it may mean bending the rules just a bit. Of course, when bending the rules results in a broken window, Kyle looses a big chunk of his allowance and gets grounded on top of it.
Kyle’s town is about to get something new — a library. They had a library at one time but it closed before Kyle was born. He doesn’t quite get the excitement so he dashes of his essay in just seconds. His teacher refuses to enter it in the competition.
But then his friends start talking it up. In addition to winning a place at a special preview sleep over party, winners also get a gift card for Lemoncello games. Mr. Lemoncello grew up in their town and credits his success as a game maker to the library. Because of this, he has built a whole new library for the town. Kyle is much more interested in the games than the library so he goes home and writes another essay, a real essay. He find’s Mr. Lemoncello’s e-mail address and sends the inventor the essay himself, since his teacher will no longer do it. It isn’t exactly within the rules but you can’t win if you don’t try.
When Kyle wins a place a at the party only to discover that this is more than a sleepover at the library. Winners have to compete to find a way back out of the library. They have the resources of the library itself at their disposal and Kyle quickly teams up with his best friend who was also at the party. No, the rules didn’t say you could team up, but they didn’t say you couldn’t. Kyle quickly discovers how much fun it is to play a game with other players on your side.
Kyle has to figure out just which rules are okay to push and which ones are too important to break.
I’ll admit that I had some trouble getting into this book. Mr. Lemoncello reminded me too much of Willy Wonka. There were also several lines of dialogue that reminded me of Harry Potter. Being something of a reader, it finally hit me that the references were intentional. Not only is this book a celebration of games and libraries, it is also a celebration of the wide variety of books that can open the world to young minds.
As much as I like to read, I’m a little slow sometimes.
Unlike some books that contain games, Grabenstein gives readers all they need to solve the puzzle problems along side the characters. The book even contains one puzzle that the characters never solve. Readers are encouraged to solve it themselves and e-mail their answers to Grabenstein.
What about you? Are you game to try?