Monday, February 24, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY by Chris Grabenstein (Random House, June 2013)

What It's About (from the author's web page): Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library plunks a dozen sixth-graders into the middle of a futuristic library for a night of nonstop fun and adventure.
Kyle Keeley is a game fan—board games, word games, and especially video games! Kyle's hero, the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello, is the genius behind the design of the town's new public library, which contains not only books, but an IMAX theater, an electronic learning center, instructional holograms, interactive dioramas and electromagnetic hover ladders that float patrons up to the books they want.
Lucky Kyle wins a spot as one of the first twelve kids invited to a gala, overnight library lock-in filled with of fun and games. But the next morning, when the lock-in is supposed to be over, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the others must follow book-related clues and unravel all sorts of secret puzzles to find the hidden escape route if they want to win Mr. Lemoncello's most fabulous prize ever.
Opening Lines: "This is how Kyle Keeley got grounded for a week.
First he took a shortcut through his mother’s favorite rosebush. Yes, the thorns hurt, but having crashed through the brambles and trampled a few petunias, he had a five-second jump on his oldest brother, Mike.
 Both Kyle and his big brother knew exactly where to find what they needed to win the game: inside the house!
Why I Liked It: As you can see from these first lines, with boys racing and crashing about, this is one exuberant romp. Middle grade readers will love the puzzles and the humor. Chris Grabenstein has a well-tuned ear for how kids this age speak and his dialogue crackles.
You have got to love a book set in a library where the head librarian is described as "world famous." This one was a finalist for the recent Cybils award, and with good reason. (I also really like the cover--I know, I'm shallow. But I do judge a book by its cover.)
About the Author: Chris Grabenstein has quite the pedigree, with a number of novels (including several written with James Patterson) to his name. His Web page is one of the best author ones I've seen out there: very easy on the eye, and Mr. Grabenstein seems to know how to connect with his readers. Plus, he likes dogs. The Don approves!
Chris Grabenstein with his dog, Fred