Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein. This New York Times bestseller was published by Yearling in 2013.
Both my daughter and I were attracted to this book on the shelves at bookstores and book sales. It wasn’t so much the look of the cover as its prominent placement coupled with the title: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, after which I had visions of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, a movie that I really appreciate, all mixed up with books.
Plus, reading this makes perfect sense sandwiched between From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The Lemonade Wars (yes, by title alone).
What I have to say about the book is this: It is completely on par with the most popular recent books in the middle grades category (and I am thinking here of books like Dr. Proctor’s Fart Powder and The Secret Series). More specifically, the writing is acceptable, the gimmick is mildly interesting (in this case, the picture/word puzzles), the story is okay but lacks adrenaline, the characters leave you wanting more depth (and are, at times, appallingly cliche which even my daughter commented about), and the cover is horrifying. (Perhaps horrifying is a strong word, but I am so over these shoddily-drawn-silhouettes everywhere in MG and YA.) The most positive thing about this book is that it just might get your kids (or you) interested in rebuses or libraries, which would be pretty cool.
I can’t think of anything else to say.
Shortest review ever.
There is another book now available (as in it came out three days ago), Mr. Lemocello’s Library Olympics. I would expect the series to continue further, as well. And Chris Grabenstein has other similar books available, like The Island of Dr. Libris and the Haunted Mystery series.
Nikolodeon has optioned the book and has considered it for a TV movie, but so far nothing has progressed.