Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

August 21, 2017 at 2:00 pm (Reads) ()

escapeEscape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

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Not sure if you’ll like this book? Well, the back of the book tells you everything you need to know in one quote: “In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum …”. Twelve kids go into a state-of-the-art library, built by the enigmatic and eccentric Mr. Lemoncello, and try to solve puzzles to find a secret exit. He (or she!) who does wins an extraordinary prize.

Straight up, this book is a lot of fun. It starts fast and maintains its pace throughout the story, keeping us engaged with lively characters and an engaging plot. We don’t have any Mike Teevees or Veruca Salts, but neither do we have any Uncle Joes or Charlie Buckets, instead, we have everyday kid protagonists who are easy to like, and everyday kid antagonists who are as equally easy to loathe. The plot doesn’t wander far off its mark, which is fine, since the story is set in one location, and there’s only one goal in mind for all the characters. It’s a simple story that plugs along without pretention.

It’s best to understand that this is a kids’ book. Its characters are drawn with a broad brush, without much complexity or depth. We get enough to know who we should like and who we shouldn’t, but we’re not getting a bunch of backstory or ambiguity in their characters. It’s straightfoward, easily accessible, and pretty mindless, none of which are bad things, so long as you understand that going into the book. Anyone looking for a Harry Potter or a Percy Jackson are going to be disappointed.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a love letter to libraries and books and reading and knowledge. Sure, it’s written for kids, but adults who are still kids at heart, or who have a soft spot for the libraries of their youth, will find a lot to like here. It’s morally sound, with good behavior rewarded in the story, and its main theme is friendship (though teamwork takes a close second). If it sounds like anything you might like, then I’ll bet that you will. I highly recommend it.

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