The Island of Dr. Libris
Review: Billy Gillfoyle is spending the summer with his mom — but not his dad, who will return to their home in New York City — in a cabin. On a lake. In the middle of nowhere. But he soon discovers that this lake in the middle of nowhere has an island, a very mysterious island indeed, in The Island of Dr. Libris, a fantasy adventure for middle-grade readers by Chris Grabenstein.
With his mom busy writing her dissertation, Billy is left trying to find activities to fill the days. To make life more difficult for him, there is no TV, DVD player, or game console in the cabin. There's a boy about his age in a nearby cabin, but being in the middle of nowhere still means there's not much to do. That is until he opens the door to a room with a massive bookcase filled with leather-bound books. The bookcase is locked, but he sees a small piece of paper with some writing on it. "I am an odd number. Take away one and I become even. What number am I?" A riddle! And maybe a clue to where to find the key. Solving the riddle and finding the key, he unlocks the bookcase and selects the nearest book, The Labors of Hercules. Opening to a random page, he suddenly hears someone speaking in character from the book. But Billy is alone in the room and yet, there's the voice again, further away this time, outside, as if coming from the island in the lake …
The Island of Dr. Libris is a fun, literary-themed story, heavy on action from many classic novels. The title, of course, is a play on The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells, and there are interstitial pages of the experiment that Dr. Libris is running, with Billy (and later his friends) as a test subject. It is this aspect that really doesn't quite work as well as it probably could, though it does provide a framework for the story as a whole. Setting this one element aside, everything else makes for a most enjoyable read.
At the end, the author provides a list of the books that make an appearance in the story. Some of the references are quite subtle, and easily overlooked, so part of the fun here is going back and seeing how they were missed in the first place! Hopefully, upon completing this book, young readers will be inspired to pick up at least one of the classics listed.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of The Island of Dr. Libris for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Random House (Hardcover), June 2013
ISBN-13: 9780375870897; ISBN-10: 037587089X
Location(s) referenced in The Island of Dr. Libris: Ohio
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The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: March 2015
List Price: $16.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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