Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Review: The wealthy and eccentric benefactor of the new Alexandriaville Public Library, who provided the funds to refurbish an old bank building into a modern, state-of-the-art library center, has offered twelve 12-year-olds the opportunity to spend a night exploring the facility just prior to its public opening. But unknown to the group, he has more in mind for them, a puzzle that will challenge them to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, a stand-alone adventure for middle school readers by Chris Grabenstein.
Kyle Keeley is one of the lucky twelve to be chosen by Mr. Lemoncello, who made his fortune by creating, manufacturing, and selling all manner of games for families and children. Kyle had grown up playing Mr. Lemoncello's games, and when learning he had been selected, he may actually have been more excited by the $500 gift card to purchase games in one of Mr. Lemoncello's stores that accompanied his selection than by the opportunity to spend the night in the library. But all that changes when he enters the doors to what is a technological marvel: holographic library assistants, HD screens lining the rotunda displaying space as seen from the Hubble telescope, hover ladders using magnetic levitation technology to access the top shelves of books, and much, so much more. But Mr. Lemoncello has more in mind for the children than an evening of exploring the library and playing games. When morning comes, he offers them — with their parents' permission, of course — the chance to remain in the library for one more day, locked in and unable to communicate with the outside world, to devise a means to escape by following a series of clues, the answers to which are contained somewhere within the library itself.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a brilliantly conceived adventure novel, one that will almost certainly entertain and delight its intended audience of readers. It is a clever mix of old standards — most notably, the Dewey Decimal Classification developed in 1876 and still used by most libraries today — and new technology. The action doesn't begin in earnest until about a third of the way in, when the participants, now divided into two teams, start receiving their clues. In another clever twist, each team has the same overall riddle to solve but must use different ways to interpret it, one illustrative and the other textual. Part of the fun here as a reader is trying to figure out what the solution is together with the teams. (It's not as easy as one might think!) And as if any additional tension is needed, towards the end there is a ticking clock (in the form of a disembodied voice) counting down the minutes until the game is over. This is a well crafted and plotted book, but best of all, an exciting and most entertaining one.
Acknowledgment: Raab Associates provided an ARC of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Pegasus Books (Hardcover), May 2013
ISBN-13: 9781605984759; ISBN-10: 1605984752
The Island of Dr. Libris
Random House (Hardcover), March 2015
ISBN-13: 9780385388443; ISBN-10: 0385388446
Location(s) referenced in Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library: Ohio
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Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: June 2013
List Price: $16.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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