After years of struggling to make Battle of the Books fun for my students and years of struggling with the regional coordinators on selecting better books, I decided to branch out and have my students do something different – something bold and new. Well sort of new. We are still called Book Detectives, but our club is centered around the Newbery Award. (The Newbery is the award given for the best writing in a children’s book. Click here for more info.) Sort of a Mock Newbery Club, but just a bit more. The first half of the year we are reading several books that are eligible for the Newbery. In January we will vote on the one we think should win. Now, thousand and thousands of children’s books are published each year. There is no way we could read every possible contender, but I believe we’ve picked some good ones. After the award is announced in January we will switch our focus to books that have already won the award. I’ll post more about that later. The first two books we picked to read were Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein and Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Lisle Shurtlif. I absolutely love both books, but I have to admit that Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library holds a special place in my heart. Come on! IT TAKES PLACE IN A LIBRARY WITH AN AWESOME LIBRARIAN! (Please excuse the shouting, but I LOVE this book and so did my students.) Think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory inside a library. This is a great book for avid and reluctant readers alike. If you like games and puzzles, this book is for you as well. Grabenstein catches the reader’s attention from the very beginning and doesn’t let go.
Sometimes I’m afraid that the award committee goes out of their way to avoid a book that students might actually like (there have been excpetions – Holes and The One and Only Ivan - to name just a couple). So I’m really worried that the committee might snub this book. Even if it doesn’t snag the award, it has already captured the hearts of young readers (and a few older ones) everywhere.
My Book Detectives were fortunate enough to Skype with Mr. Grabenstein during our last meeting. He is just as wonderful as his book. We all had a blast .He mentioned the possibility of a movie and a sequel. You should have seen the arm pumping and cheering when the Book Detectives heard that.
I highly recommend that you not only add this book to your To Be Read list, but that you put it at the top of your list. Just don’t come looking for it in the AEES library – all the copies are checked out.
Summary from Goodreads:
Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.
Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.
In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience.
Recommended for 4th Grade and Up.
AR Book Level 4.5