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Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

By Chris Grabenstein

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2013
Pages : 304
Suggested Ages: 8 and Up
ISBN: 9780375870897

Kyle Keeley isn’t much of a reader. He’s more into games. Board games, video games, you name it. Especially the brilliant world of Luigi Lemoncello’s Imagination Factory, which continuously puts out the best games ever. 

So when the town of Alexandriaville announces it will be opening its very first public library in twelve years, Kyle isn’t as excited as his friends at school. Twelve twelve-year-olds who write the best essays on ‘Why I’m Excited About the New Public Library’ will be invited to the library’s grand opening lock-in, and Kyle scribbles off a hurried entry: “Balloons. There might be balloons.” 

To the great excitement of the whole town, the famed Mr. Lemoncello arrives at the school to judge the essays: if he is the man behind the new library, then who knows what might be inside! Kyle quickly re-writes the essay with more care than before and sends it to an address on Mr. Lemoncello’s website, but the email bounces back. By some bizarre stroke of luck, though, he is chosen, and joins his best friend Akimi Hughes, the ditzy cheerleader Haley Daley, the sneakiest suckup in the whole school, Charles Chiltington, and eight others to the kickoff party on Friday night. 

When the heavy door locks them in, the kids discover the library is outfitted with all the crazy amenities that a beloved game inventor could possibly dream up. A holograph of Mr. Lemoncello’s childhood librarian appears in the foyer to help them along the way. The Electronic Learning Center includes a smell-a-rama machine and a space shuttle simulator. Mr. Lemoncello is showing the kids that a library is a place to learn, grow, and explore. And suddenly, for the first time in his life, Kyle wants to check out a library book more than anything else in the world. 

But the biggest challenge Mr. Lemoncello throws their way? Whoever can escape from the library first (not using the way they came in) will be the new face of the Lemoncello brand. Kyle’s experience with word games and trivia comes in handy, as he and the other kids race to use the Dewey Decimal system and other tools in the library to trace the clues that will lead one winner to fame and fortune. 

With a wonderful combination of adventure, humor, and a hodgepodge of fun facts, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is meant to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike, and will be for years to come. Allusions to other great children’s books provide nice segues for books to read next. 

Have your kids read this book before attending a sleepover or library lock-in, then mimic Mr. Lemoncello’s games and trivia at the event. Author Chris Grabenstein offers a full-scale Lemoncello-style scavenger hunt here, on his website

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Themes :

If you love this book, then try:

Bosch, Pseudonymous. The Name of This Book Is Secret. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2007. 



Gutman, Dan. Miss Daisy Is Crazy! Harper Trophy, 2004.



Konigsburg, E. L. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler



Patterson, James, and Grabenstein, Chris. Daniel X: Armageddon. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012.



Patterson, James, and Grabenstein, Chris. I FunnyLittle Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012. 



Raskin, Ellen. The Westing Game. Dutton, 1978.



Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict SocietyLittle Brown Books for Young Readers, 2007.

Critics have said

"With a great mix of boy and girl main characters, interesting information on how libraries work, and intriguing challenges for this band of misfits, this non-fantasy was exactly what I was looking for. Add in the gaming hook, and this novel has a wide appeal range for boys and girls alike. "
Publishers Weekly


"Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children��s book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read is a winner for readers and game-players alike."
Kirkus