I have no idea why I wasn’t interested in reading Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein when it first came out in 2013. I mean, it does have all the elements that would typically interest me. Maybe it was hard to get? I don’t know. At any rate, when a new copy came through in our new books, I checked it out. It’s really good!
Kyle Keeley loves games of all kinds, but he’s not a big reader. So he’s not really interested in the new library that famous game inventor Luigi Lemoncello has constructed in town. But that changes when Kyle learns that the twelve winners of an essay contest will be the first ones allowed into the library for a lock-in with food, free movies, prizes, and games. He writes a winning essay and lands a spot for the lock-in. What none of them realize is that the entire library has been turned into a game, and the prize for solving the clues and escaping is greater than anyone knew. Will smarts and teamwork win the day, or will smarts and manipulation steal the show?
I enjoyed this book more than I expected to, and I expected to enjoy it. I don’t particularly like brain teaser games, but I liked how everything was laid out for you in the book. Something that always frustrated me about Sherlock Holmes novels was the fact that the reader isn’t seeing what Holmes is seeing, so how do we know that we aren’t as observant? But, that’s a rant for another day. In Grabenstein’s book, the reader is given all the same clues as the game participants. We can’t always see what they’re seeing, but they usually tell us what they’re seeing, so we’re capable of figuring things out along with them. All that’s great if you’re into games, but like I said, that’s not me. However, I loved the social aspects of the book, the teamwork, the leadership, the way that Kyle was able to engage with his fellow students and play to their strengths. I think the book is a great example to kids of how to be a team player. Kyle takes leadership of the team, but he always appreciates the aptitudes of his team, and doesn’t order people around. He is humble and takes the biggest risks himself, leading by example. I think this book would be great for your game players, and anyone who needs to learn about teamwork. And, of course, anyone who enjoys a library story.