Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Common Sense Media says

Fun mystery about kids locked in library by wacky genius.




ALA Best and Notable Books

What parents need to know

Educational value

A litany of great books and learning experiences appears here, in such a way that kids will be tickled by references they recognize and enticed to investigate quite a few they don't.

Positive messages

Mr. Limoncello's motto is "Knowledge Not Shared Remains Unknown." Cooperation, teamwork, fair play, kindness, and friendship are well (and often comically) rewarded, while mean kids don't fare so well. 

Positive role models

Mr. Lemoncello is a wacky genius with a love of learning and a finely tuned sense of right and wrong. Kyle and some of his friends excel at putting their particular talents to work in the quest, and also at helping each other out. Almost all of them learn something new about themselves, each other, and their world in the course of the story.


Aside from mentions of a video game involving plane crashes and flying squirrels that bite their victims on the butt, there's nothing to worry about here.

Not applicable

Occasional references to video game characters getting bitten on the butt.


Aside from the plentiful mention of book titles, most products mentioned are fictitious, including Mr. Lemoncello's many games. There are occasional exceptions, including Lemon Pledge, an early sponsor of his game show.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that even readers as reluctant as protagonist Kyle will see libraries in a new light as they follow his adventures in Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein, co-author with James Patterson of I Funny: A Middle School Story. Solving riddles, working out puzzles, and navigating the Dewey Decimal System all play a role in this fun tale, not to mention homages to everything from The Phantom Tollbooth and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to reality TV, and dozens of book references designed to delight kids who already know them and entice those who don't. Mean kids get their comeuppance; friendship, ingenuity, and teamwork are big here, as are Kyle's gaming skills. Occasional brief mentions of a video game involving crashes as well as flying -- and sometimes flaming -- squirrels that bite their victims on the butt.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

If it's a game, 12-year-old Kyle Keeley loves it. Books, not so much. But when he learns that his hero, eccentric-genius game developer Luigi Lemoncello, has funded an over-the-top, media-rich, interactive library for their hometown, he's thrilled to be one of a dozen kids invited to the grand opening. Things get even more interesting as the party winds down and Mr. Limoncello announces a contest: The kids are locked in, and have to come up with an ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY. An awesome prize hangs in the balance. The library itself has many clues.

Is it any good?


An award-winning author of adult mysteries and collaborator with James Patterson on middle-school fiction, Chris Grabenstein spins a captivating tale that will keep kids turning the pages and often give them -- and their parents reading along -- the giggles. The kid characters will resonate with young readers, who'll probably get plenty of ideas for new books and other interesting info to check out.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about libraries in their lives. What were they like when parents and grandparents were kids, and what are they like now? If you visit your local library, what do you like about it?

  • Do you think playing games helps you learn? How?

  • Why do you think stories about people who have to solve a problem, and have to decide whether to compete or cooperate, are so popular? Can you think of other examples?

Book details

Author:Chris Grabenstein
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, History
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Random House Children's Books
Publication date:June 25, 2013
Number of pages:224
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook
Award:ALA Best and Notable Books

This review of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byautumnd December 28, 2014

Mystery Madness

I think this book is a great book for any kid. It's a mystery in a mystery book. It has education, fun, ad mystery all in one. MLCL is a great read.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Adult Written bypartygamer11 August 19, 2014

Mr Lemoncello rocks

I think this book is a page turning adventure kind book
What other families should know
Educational value
Kid, 11 years old March 12, 2014

escape from mr.lemoncellos library

i loved this book because it had educational value and has great messages !!!!!!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages


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