I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I borrowed it from my local library, but I think I'm going to have to go buy a copy and shelve it right next to my copy of Roald Dahl's Matilda.
Kyle Keeley is the youngest of three boys, his older brothers being a genius and a sports star. The thing the three have in common, and that evens the playing field between them is games. Especially the games created by the great Luigi Lemoncello. After Kyle gets grounded for breaking a window in his family's basement while try to win the Lemoncello scavenger hunt game he discovers that there is a contest to win one of 12 spots at the new library's lock-in. Kyle enters without much hope of winning and when he discovers that the new library was designed by Mr. Lemoncello, he gives his essay and entry to the contest his best effort.
It seems that Alexandriaville has been without a public library for quite some time, enough that the town's 12 year olds haven't had one in their lives. Mr. Lemoncello is a big proponent of the public library and spent a lot of time in the old Alexandriaville Library. Now, he wants to give a dozen of the town's seventh graders their chance to fall in love with the library.
Kyle, his best friend Akimi and an assortment of characters get selected to take part in the lock-in. But, when the morning comes, there is another challenge awaiting them, if they accept, the child who solves the puzzles and finds his/her way out of the library will be handsomely rewarded. Then, they have 24 hours to figure out the puzzle and win the game.
Grabenstein created not only the coolest sounding library ever, but he also created a handful of really great kids to spend a couple of nights there. Sure, there are always some rotten eggs, but for the most part, these are the kids I want the world to be filled with. He also filled it with tons of literary references that had me wanting to (re)read the great books he cites and hints at.
I was sorry when this story ended, but I can tell you that on a rainy day, I'll be turning to this book again. The idea of spending a few hours re-immersed in Lemoncello's library and Grabenstein's world is very appealing. I don't think you have to be a child to enjoy this book, but if you have or know a reader, a budding bibliophile or even a kid who reads casually (I'd say, depending upon reading skill and maturity between 9 and 14 years old), steer them in the direction of this book. Or better yet, just get it into their hands. I'm pretty sure they'll thank you for it.
Here's the author's book trailer for Mr. Lemoncello: