Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Recently, I have had a lot of requests for recommendations for mystery books for kids.  Most of what I read when I was younger did not fall into the mystery category, and a lot of what I have been reading is either coming of age or fantasy/sci-fi.  I downloaded a list of mystery books for young readers, and decided to try a couple out.  The first one that I found on the list was Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein.

This is an interesting mystery, and I am not entirely sure that I would classify it in this genre.  Others have classified it as a mystery, so we will go with that.  It is a bit like Willy Wonka meets librarian and books instead of chocolates and sweets.  Mr. Lemoncello is opening a library in a town that has not had a library for years.  He has built the state-of-the-art library in an old bank.

To celebrate the opening of the new library, Mr. Lemoncello has an essay contest where he will select the twelve 12-year old winners who get to spend the night in the library for the grand opening.  After the kids are locked into the library, the games begin.  The kids have to play a game.  The first one to find the way out of the library that is not an emergency exit or the front door wins.  There are clues all over the library.  There are also rules.  Kids who break the rules lose and have to leave the library.  First, several leave voluntarily due to other obligations.  The remaining kids battle to win the big prize at the end – starring in Mr. Lemoncello’s ad campaign for his games.

The kids use their knowledge of books, libraries, and the Dewey Decimal system to solve the clues and puzzles and win the game.  As they do so, the main character discovers a world of books to read and makes the decision to spend more time reading books and less time on video games.  As players are eliminated, the game gets more and more interesting.  Alliances form, and we see that some of the kids will cheat their way to victory.

This was an excellent book, and I am getting really excited about setting up my mystery display now.  This gives me the excuse to read a few more mysteries for kids!  Until next time, Happy Reading!

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