Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library: Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Book 1

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library: Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Fun mystery about kids locked in library by wacky genius.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 21 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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.

Violence & Scariness

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.


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

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 10-year-old Written byZmansmom June 23, 2015

Awesome mystery!

My 10 year old read this book in one day. He said he loved that it was a mystery and had puzzles! Hoping there is another one!,
Adult Written byCristina williams November 23, 2020

Great book for children that like to play games

Great book. Team work, humor, other book reference like alice in wonderland, a wrinkle in time, the westing game, and a lot of other titles. If you enjoy games... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bylauren122807 August 24, 2018
great book very fun and wacky. It is a great and exciting book, enough said.
the only reason I did not rate it a lower age is on the reading level.
Kid, 10 years old January 29, 2019
so fun! lots of cool charterers and so many book references.
Book Worm approved

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?

Author 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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mystery

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate