While waiting for books from the ALSC Notable Nominee List to come in at the library, I pick up new titles on display. One of those just practically jumped off the shelf at me and once I started, I could not put it down. Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein will surely be a hit with kids and teachers.
There isn't much to do in Alexandriaville, Ohio, so the Keely brothers play games. Their favorites are games made up by the famous game creator Mr. Lemoncello. The best game player in the family is Kyle, the middle brother. Not a jock like his older brother and not a brainiac like his younger brother, Kyle looks to winning games, all games, when playing against his brothers. The big news in town is the opening of the new library. Alexandria hasn't had a library for 12 years, now, thanks to contributions from Mr. Lemoncello, an Alexandriaville native, the town will have the biggest, most advanced library in the country.
As part of the celebration there is an essay contest for all 12 year olds in the town. The best 12 essay writers will get the chance to go into the library early for a lock in and games. When the 12 are announced you have the girl who does nothing but read, the spoiled rich kid, the cheerleader popular girl and then Kyle and his regular kid friends. The story continues and the kids are treated to the night of their lives, first playing with all of the new gadgets and gizmos and then challenged to solve the mystery of the library in order to become spokes models for Mr. Lemoncello's company.
The game involves solving puzzles that have to do with using the library, you know, like Dewey Decimal and stuff! The kids need to know authors and book titles as well as Alexandriaville history to be successful. I have to say, just when I thought I knew what would happen, Mr. Lemoncello and super librarian Dr. Yanina Zenchinko throw us a curve and story goes a whole new direction. Like I said, I couldn't put it down.
I will be recommending this to all readers grades 3 - 5 and some better second graders. It is written at that many levels. I loved the similarities to Charlie and Chocolate Factory and the Winston Breen books. I also loved how Mr. Lemoncello sprinkled his conversations with the titles of books. Listening for these could be a focus activity for a teacher reading this to their class. This book needs to be on every teacher's shelf of read alouds.