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- author Jackie French

Sunday 17 November 2013

Review: Escape from Mr Lemoncello's Library

Kyle Keeley is twelve years old and the youngest of three brothers. He loves games.

Mr Lemoncello creates games. All kinds of games - board games, computer games, puzzle games - you name it, he makes it.

When Alexandriaville (yes, it is a reference to the ancient library in Alexandria) opens a brand new, state-of-the-art library, it’s the first time in twelve years that the town has had a public library. To celebrate, twelve local twelve-year-olds will be the first to experience the library and all it has to offer, via a special ‘library lock-in’.

Kyle and his friends are more than a little excited, because they are just the right age, and this isn’t just any library lock-in, it’s one that involves Mr Lemoncello. It seems that Mr Lemoncello is the benefactor who funded the multi-million dollar library, and will be there himself.

When Kyle sees the hover platforms used to reach the bookshelves “for the first time in his life, [he wants] to check out a library book more than anything in the world.”

The library building was once a bank (perhaps symbolic of the vault of information to be found in libraries). Now it has a Rotunda Reading Room with a special effects ‘wonder dome’ ceiling, a children’s section fitted with audio-animatronic singing geese to lead a chorus of nursery rhymes, an Electronic Learning Centre with educational gameware complete with surround sound and smell-a-vision, holographic statues, and a holographic librarian. This is one amazing library - I’d sure like to check it out.

What happens when the children are cut off from everyone and everything, and the library itself becomes a game board, with the children locked inside the game pieces? Kyle and the others will have to use their brains and the resources available in the library to solve puzzles and escape. Along the way, they might just learn whether it’s the prize, or how you play the game that’s important. Kyle will also discover a whole lot of books he wants read (see how many authors and book titles you can find in the story).

With the rather mysterious and eccentric Mr Lemoncello, a competition, and a library filled with unexpected and high-tech features, Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library is a definite nod to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Kudos to author Chris Grabenstein for creating an easy-to-read story that celebrates reading and libraries, and enthuses its readers in an entertaining and informative way. This book is a clever, creative, funny mystery that will warm the hearts of booklovers, and hopefully entice the more reluctant readers to keep reading.

A note for librarians: Be sure to visit Chris Grabenstein’s website to access the downloadable Mr Lemoncello’s Great Library Escape Game. It comes with instructions, clue cards and answers so you can host your own library-style scavenger hunt.

Title: Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library
Author: Chris Grabenstein
Publisher: Random House, $24.95 RRP
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780375870897
For ages: 8-14 years
Type: Junior Fiction, Middle Fiction