Monday, May 4, 2020

Reviews from the Children's Section - Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

One of my favorite genres and one that is the easiest for me to push aside is middle grade fiction. This year to make sure I get a little more children's and young adult fiction I thought I would designate the first Monday of every month Middle Grade Monday (though sometimes it doesn't end up working quite right) .  While a lot of my picks this year are classics I am trying to branch out a little bit and read new or at least recent releases.  Today's book is one I've been wanting to read from years!

Goodreads:  Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein

Blurb:  Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.
Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.

In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience.

My Thoughts:  I have some mixed feelings about this one. I wanted to absolutely love it and get pulled into a bookish middle grade adventure but that never really quite happened.  All the pieces were there but for me it never quite came together.  I didn't like most of the characters and they weren't particularly developed and the bookish aspects were just an overlay.  It really could have taken place anywhere and just changed book titles to whatever was fitting.  I don't see it truly impacting the story.  While the pacing was good I can't say that I really enjoyed this one and if I hadn't been anticipating it for so long I probably would have DNF'd it.  Not because it was terrible but more because I just didn't really care.

That said, I'm not the target market for this book.  And thinking about the target market I think it would be a hit.  I think my 10 year old will enjoy this quite a bit.  The pacing is good and the game part could be fun.  I did really like that the do talk about the Dewey decimal system some so it could become a starting point for learning about that.

Overall, I think if you're reading this as an adult there might be some better middle grade adventure books out there.  If you're looking for a book to read with a child or to have the child read independently I think this one is worth picking up.  There's nothing objectionable in the story though it didn't have quite as much heart as I was hoping for.


  1. My daughter watched a movie based on this book (I think it was based on this book, anyway), and loved it. I enjoyed it too. We haven't read the book but are tempted to. I think my daughter would enjoy this one quite a bit.

  2. When I was growing up the mother of my friend often read middle grade fiction and it amazed me because I though adults would want to do that. But she always said a well written book will appeal to all ages. I often think of her - long gone now, when i pick up middle grade fiction.

  3. How disappointing, but you make a good point about target market. i probably would have liked this as a kid. at around 10, I loved The Three investigators, The Hardy Boys, and The Happy Hollisters.

    Also, perfect choice of a book to review since this is Children's Book Week.

  4. Please, I implore you, Katherine - try Chris Grabenstein's mystery series with John Ceepak and Danny Boyle on the Jersey shore. Starts with Tilt-a-Whirl. He's moved on to the middle grade books now, but I loved that series so, so much. Have not read this one, but I've heard good things.

  5. I hate it when a book that you are really looking forward to doesn't quite live up to expectations. It sounds like this one might me best if left to the kids. Great review!

  6. At least it wasn't a total loss. 👍✨