The Plot In 5 Sentences Or Less: Billy’s parents are having difficulties in their marriage, so he is spending the summer with his mother in a lakeside cabin while his father stays working in New York City. But this isn’t any normal cabin; it’s one built by the eccentric Dr. Libris, a scientist/professor who has installed security cameras all over the property. Even more strange, when Billy begins reading some of the classic books from Dr. Libris’s ornate bookshelf, the books actually come to life on an island out in the lake. Billy soon finds himself talking to Robin Hood and crossing swords with the 3 Musketeers. As he unleashes so many classic book characters, Billy must find a way to put a stop to the madness.
My Take: Having greatly enjoyed Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, I was looking forward to this book. While I didn’t find it as engrossing Lemoncello’s, I appreciated it for its own merits. Grabenstein kept the plot moving and at no point did I ever feel that the book slowed down. I think that kids will enjoy the imaginary dangers on the island as well as getting to know some classic book characters.
One Interesting Note About the Author: According to his website, Chris co-wrote the movie “The Christmas Gift” starring John Denver which premiered in 1986. It often still played around Christmas time.
The Plot in Five Sentences or Less: Kyle Keeley wins an essay writing contest and gets to spend the night in his town’s brand new public library with 11 of his peers. The library is a massive, technological marvel built by none other than Luigi Lemoncello, a one time small town boy who has gone on to make a fortune in the board game industry. When Kyle and his companions awaken the next morning, they find the doors of the library locked. Mr. Lemoncello has challenged them to a new game: escape from the library using the hidden clues. Will Kyle and his friends be able to crack the code in time and escape from Lemoncello’s library?
My Take: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” meets “The Westing Game.” This is a solidly entertaining and clever read that will appeal to both boys and girls ages 9 and above. Author Chris Grabenstein makes the puzzles challenging, but not ridiculously difficult. I appreciated the many nods and allusions to library lore and children’s literature. The characters are not especially fleshed out, but who cares? The fun is in watching the kids solve the puzzles and make their way out of the library. Ages 9+
One Interesting Note About the Author: According to his website, Chris Grabenstein used to write for commercials. One of his earliest bosses was James Patterson, with whom he now writes books!