Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein is truly a book for all book lovers. As I read, I thought I should be making a list of all the references to famous books in this story. I can imagine the kids in my class raising their hands and their faces lighting up as they make literary connections throughout this book. Mr. Lemoncello's library will go on my list of places I wish I could visit in books. Other places on this list include Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, and the magical and mysterious forest in Breadcrumbs.
Mr. Lemoncello lived for his small town library. It was an escape for him as a child and a place where his imagination could run wild. As he grew older, he became an eccentric multi-millionaire creating all sorts of board games, trivia games, and video games for kids and adults. He is basically a Willy Wonka for the gaming industry.
Twelve years before this story begins, his library was torn down to build a parking garage. Mr. Lemoncello decides to build the most amazing, state-of-the-art library to replace it. It is so secretive that different crews of workers are hired for short bursts of time and none of them know what the other is working on. In celebration of the opening of his library, there is a contest. Twelve 12-year-olds have an opportunity to win a night in the library!
Kyle Keeley, whose family has sort of an obsession with games, nearly forgets to enter the essay contest. He makes it in by the skin of his teeth and ends up with one of the coveted spots. The twelve kids soon find out that this is not your ordinary library...and this was not your ordinary contest. They find themselves in a race against the clock to get OUT of the library...for a very handsome prize awaits those who succeed.
I think this book will make a fantastic read aloud for my fifth graders. I am actually thinking of starting my year off with it. I love that the reader can play along and try to solve the puzzles along with the characters in the story.
Have you read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library? I'd love to hear what you think!