And what a fun book it was! And what a library it was! Holographic librarians, 10-foot tall images projected onto a Wonder Dome, anti-gravity boots that take you up to the top shelves of high bookcases--but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein.
In the little town of Alexandriaville, Ohio, the town's library was torn down twelve years ago but the
billionaire game designer Luigi Lemoncello has rebuilt it in the old bank building. As a grand opening, he will choose some kids to participate in a game--find a way out of the library within 24 hours after being locked in. (there's a good reason why he was so attached to that old library and decided to build the new one) But to get into the contest, each kid has to write an essay on why he or she should be chosen.
Kyle Keely, seventh grader, has played all of Mr. Lemoncello's board games and video games and would love to get into the grand opening game but forgot to write the essay. So, about 30 minutes before it's due, he scribbles down on one page. But guess what--he gets chosen! Along with his friends Akimi and Miguel, the cheerleader Haley Daley, the bookworm Sierra and spoiled rich kid Charles Chiltington. The whole town cheers as the kids go into the library for the game--and this is no ordinary library but a high-tech grand palace of a library, complete with marble floors, a cafe, holograms, a private suite with video games, and a basement where robotic arms retrieve books from the shelves. But getting out will be a lot tougher than they thought. Mr. Lemoncello is, to say the least, eccentric. They all have to decipher clues to get out and those clues lie in odd places all over that enormous library. And they are much more difficult to decode than expected. Can Kyle and friends even find them all? If they do, could they possibly understand those obscure references? And don't forget that bratty Charles Chiltington is planning to win and keep all the fabulous prizes for himself--and Chiltingtons never lose!
This was a very fun book. Chris Grabestein knows how to keep the action moving along. You also get a chance to figure out the clues along with the characters, which is always fun. (check out the puzzle in chapter 28) I found myself really rooting for the characters, some of whom really need to win this contest. And there are references to other great books all over, as in chapter 36 when the kids ask Mr. Lemoncello the consequences of losing a round of a game and he says, "Something bad...In fact, something wicked will probably this way come." And you guys will just LOVE the eccentric and unpredictable Mr. Lemoncello, who will remind you a lot of Willy Wonka. How could you not like a guy who wears shoes that make burp-sqeeking noises! In short, this is a book guys would really enjoy. This guy did! Plus, there's a really cool interview with the author at the end of the book. So how could you lose? Check this one out, boys. And don't forget that it's the Community Read Book for this year.
So let me ask a couple of questions to start a community discussion:
Why is the town called "Alexandriaville"? (hint--it has to do with a library)
Remember Mr. Lemoncello's quote about "something wicked"? What book did it come from? And who was the author?
What would you rather have--a tour of Willy Wonka's candy factory or Mr. Lemoncello's library?
All, right, guys, can't wait to hear those answers!