Wasn’t sure I’d get in a Tuesday post for you guys but I recently finished two children’s books and thought I’d squeeze one in. Now hopefully I’ll finish Last Bus to Wisdom in time to have a Thursday review for you!
Anywho… Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein is the first book of the Mr. Lemoncello series. I say series, but I’m not sure how many books this one will be. I know a second one recently came out, but not sure if there are any others planned.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a book that toes the fantasy line–it feels like fantasy but isn’t. This is the story of a library’s grand opening that is larger then life… literally. The library’s reopening is funded by the eccentric Luigi Lemoncello. Mr. Lemoncello is a famous game maker and for his birthday the Head Librarian created a scavenger hunt for twelve lucky twelve year olds to participate in.
In steps Kyle Keeley and his crew, who think they are only spending a night in the library but are surprised to find they they are locked in and have 24 hours to find their way out and win BIG prizes. Confounded by word games, picture puzzles, literary logic and more, Kyle and his friends must piece together the clues and win the game.
Battling against books, bullies, some seriously threatening holograms and the clock, can Kyle Keeley keep his cool, his friends and his morals and still come out on top?
Those who know me, know I love a good game. Not digital games, although there are some with merit, but any live competition against real life people. Just not Mad Gab…the bane of my existence. This book spoke to that competitive, in-it-to-win girl inside of me. A scavenger hunt with riddles and puzzles, that revolves around books AND takes place in a library–be still my heart!
The kids! Oh man, my initial response on turning the last page of this book was: Damn these are some smart twelve year olds. Well read with street smarts and courage to-boot. I mean unrealistically so. We have a diverse set of kids, each with their own personalities, family life and problems. Great. And maybeeee combining everyone together they could have solved this puzzle but phew! I know I couldn’t.
This would be a good book for a 5th – 8th grader, although I think it will have a limited audience. The story has a fast pace and a sense of excitement but I don’t know how well received it would be for a reluctant reader or someone not interested in reading or games. Too biased myself to judge. P.S. Don’t listen to the audio book–had to give up and get the book as soon as the scavenger hunt started. Too much to see in the book, if that makes sense.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and I desperately wanted to partake in my own library scavenger hunt. Maybe a future library program? hmmm
Baker’s Magic by Diane Zahler is a 3rd – 5th grade read. The story follows a young orphan named Bee. Bee was found in a boat at 6 months old and for the past eleven years has lead a hard life. At twelve she wanders into a mysterious town surrounded by tulips and run by an orphan princess and the head mage.
A lonely, kind baker takes Bee in and teaches her all he knows. Finally finding a measure of happiness, Bee find’s she excels at baking and her happiness seems to infect the customers she serves. Soon Bee learns that when she cooks she transfers her emotions into her baked goods and when people eat them they feel what she feels. Sad moods, deceitful, feelings of content and love all infect those who eat Bee’s pastries.
When Bee is invited to bring sweets to the palace, she makes an unlikely friend and a dangerous enemy. Can Bee help the princess regain her thrown and overthrow a mage who has become sick with power?
Magic, pirates, bravery in the face of danger, family reunions, hints of romance, humor, delicious delicacies I have to go out and make asap–what more can you ask for? This book had a little for everyone. Bee even has very believable internal conversations with herself that you can imagine someone her age relating to.
My only real critique of the book would have to be the difference in pace between the first half of the story and the second half. Not that this was bad because most of the action happened in the second half but you almost weren’t prepare for it.
This story, more than anything else is about people sticking together. At every obstacle we get characters who face their problems and overcome them by working as a team. This is such an important lesson for this books audience. Working together, playing on each others strength and helping to shore up weaknesses. All great lessons to see reinforced in a book for kids.
Baker’s Magic was like taking a deep breath, holding in and letting it go. Questions are answered and the reader is left satisfied.
That’s all for today!