Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Zany Middle Grade Adventure Pays Homage to Reading, Learning and Crazy Ole Willy Wonka

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With two older brothers—one a super jock, the other a genius—Kyle Keeley's used to coming in last all the time.  Except when it comes to games.  In that arena, he's at least got a fighting chance.  Games are, in fact, the 12-year-old's passion.  Whether it's video games, board games, puzzles, whatever—Kyle's wild about them.  

When Kyle finds out that Mr. Luigi Lemoncello, the kooky, but brilliant man who created all of his favorite games, is designing his town's new library, he couldn't be more intrigued.  Along with 11 other kids, Kyle wins the chance to spend the night in the finished building.  The place is even more amazing than he could have dreamed possible.  But, when his incredible night in the library ends, its doors won't open.  The kids are trapped inside.  That's when Mr. Lemoncello announces his newest, most exciting game yet:  in order to escape from the library, the kids inside must compete against each other to solve a series of clues leading to the library's secret, hidden passageway to the outside.  While the contestants can bow out at any time, unbelievably awesome prizes await those who stay.  

Kyle wouldn't miss this game for the world.  He has to win, if only to prove to everyone else that he's just as capable as his brothers.  But, can he out think his classmates and solve all the clues in the library before they do?  Or will Kyle Keeley come in last place once again?

I read so many dark, depressing novels for older readers that I sometimes forget how bright and uplifting middle grade books can be.  Chris Grabenstein's newest, Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library, is a perfect example.  It's fun, it's fast-paced, it's quirky, it's just all kinds of delightful.  A enjoyable romp that pays homage to the power of learning, reading and thinking, this is a book that will tickle the fancies of all readers.  If you haven't read it yet, do.  Then, pass it on to your kids, grandkids, neighbors, friends, mailman, obscure relatives ...

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl)

Grade:  

If this were a movie, it would be rated:


To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
   

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