Grabenstein, C. (2013). Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s library. New York, NY: Yearling.
This is a great book for tweens the back of the book lists the recommended age as 8-12 though I could see older readers enjoying the book as well. I originally picked this book up due to it’s comparison to Willa Wonka and this book is a great read alike for fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but is also shines in it’s own way. The book focuses on Kyle one of twelve, twelve year old kids chosen to participate in a lock in at the new library. Mr. Lemoncello is an eccentric bazillionaire game maker who is donating the new library. It has been twelve years since the old library was torn down so Mr. Lemoncello chooses to invite the kids who have never had the benefit of a public library especially for this event. When they first arrive they think they are just spending the night exploring but they discover the next morning that they can stay an extra twenty-four hours and solve a special puzzle to win a grand prize. Three of the kids opt out right away while the other kids stay and compete to be the star of Mr. Lemoncello’s new game commercials. They discover that the library is a giant game full of puzzles and clues. The remaining kids eventually break into two teams solving a different set of puzzles to reach the same clue to the exit of the library. Time is running out and only the first team can win the prize. When one member of the other team is eliminated the two remaining members are faced with a choice keep going with their clues or join Kyles team one member joins his time while the other decides to go it alone. The lone member is soon eliminated for mistreatment of his former team mates leaving the four member’s of Kyle’s team racing the clock. They make it out of the library just in time winning the fabulous prize.
What is really great about this book is readers can solve the puzzles along with the kids in the library and there is a special bonus puzzle for readers to solve on their own. The book also has an interesting interview with the author Chris Grabenstein who talks about his career, his inspiration for the book, and his childhood. There is also a check list so readers can check off all the books they have read mentioned in the book and a list of all the books Mr. Lemmoncello references in the story. Lastly there is also some information on how to host a Lemoncello style scavenger hunt in your own library. There are PDFs you can download on chrisgrabenstein.com with setup and game play instructions, a game master guide, answer sheets, clue cards, word answer cards, and pictogram answer cards. To access these resources librarians can email the author to get a secret code that will unlock all this information. This would be an awesome tween event. I also think it would be really fun to use this book for a display of books that feature libraries and librarians. This could include classics like Matilda and newer books creating a fun mix of library related stories.