Thursday, March 27, 2014

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library Mini review

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library 
by Chris Grabenstein

Published: Random House Children's
Format: hardback
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 291
Genre: Children's fiction
Source: personal copy  

From the frontispiece "Kyle Keeley has two older brothers; one is a total jock, and the other is a total brainiac. It's tough to come out on top when you're competing against that. But everyone has a fighting chance while playing boardgames...a good roll of the dice, a lucky draw of the cards, and some smarts, and Kyle could win the day.

When Kyle learns that the world's  most famous game maker has designed the town's new library and is having an invitation-only lock-in on the first night he is determined to be there. What he doesn't realize is that getting in is the easy part. Getting out is going to take more than a good roll of the dice, a lucky card, and some smarts. And the stakes have never been higher."

Well, the cover tries to make things sound more sinister than they really are in the book. If you are looking for an adventure fraught with danger, this isn't it.  If you are looking for a nice, light, fun book - now you're talking Lemoncello. It is quite nice to read a children's book where angst of some sort or another is not front and center. Kyle has older brothers but they seem to be quite supportive and Kyle comes from a happy home.  He starts off as a bit of a slacker - his response to feeling overshadowed by his brothers, which worried me, but you do see growth in his character (not lots, but enough).  The overshadowed thing was more told than shown - the shown part came out like normal rivalry amongst brothers. The more consistent thing was growing love of stories and interest in reading. The reason that Mr. Lemoncello funded construction of the library was that the town had torn down the old one and the 12 year-olds in the story had spent their entire lives without a public library.

In terms of plot, well things are a bit obvious and the characters are not terribly deep. On the other hand they do manage to steer clear of being complete stereotypes for the most part. Haley's character really needed some clearer development - there were lots of clues dropped but we never got to understand the overall picture, which made her behavior at the end a bit inexplicable.

Right - so nothing earth shaking, but instead a nice, sweet story that breaks from the dystopian pack and brings on a dose of Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm happiness, which is exactly what I need right now. More please.

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