If Willy Wonka had a Library


I have been meaning to post about this award winning Junior fiction novel for some time, but other books kept getting in the way.  But No More!

Welcome to the insane world of Mr Lemoncello and his Library.  This was one of the books you could earn at Barns and Nobles for completing their Summer reading challenge.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (June 24, 2014)

This is the quintessential fun novel about a group of kids who are dumped into a puzzle quest inside a crazy library with the promise of a great reward if they solve it first.  It is a story about bullies, games, redemption, trying your best, and unlikely friendships.  Yes yes, I have read criticisms of this novel about how characters cheet, or lie, or there are too many book references (honestly though, it is inside a Library…). My son has enjoyed it so far, and I love this book.  It is not deep.  It will not probably be remembered as a thought provoking serious story.  And why should it be? It is fun, entertaining, and filled with whimsy. While there are elements reminiscent of Charlie and the a Chocolate factory, it is by no means a copy.

Kyle Keeley is a seventh grader who loves video games.  Especially one from the gaming genius of Luigi Lemoncello.  So when Mr, Lemoncello builds a library in their town that has been without one for more than ten years Kyle just has to be one of the first to see it.  There is a contest announced, and the best essay writers will win a chance to spend the night in the library before anyone else.  Kyle is the last selected because he found a way to show Mr, Lemoncello that he should go despite turning in his essay late.  With much fanfare and balloons, the children are escorted inside. The library is everything Kyle had hoped for with games, food, and interactive displays.  However, when morning arrives, and the kids try to leave they discover they are trapped inside one giant literary game.  First one to escape before time runs out wins a big prize.

Be prepared to learn about puzzles, the Dewey Decimal system, computers, and teamwork inside Mr. Lemoncello’ amazing library…

Parental note.  I did not find anything problematic with this story for the age group.  (there is a puzzle the author asks you to solve and email the solution to him as a fun challenge)