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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is an adventure movie based on the book of the same name by Chris Grabenstein. There are some mild scares and surprises as the kids explore the library, especially in the horror section where they encounter vampires and other monsters. The building's many unusual features include trapdoors and holograms, plus magical pictures and print that pose puzzles to the kids. Positive themes of friendship and teamwork are offset by one character's chronic bullying, which causes rifts among the kids for most of the story but does reach a happy end eventually.
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What's the story?
In ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY, eccentric game maker Luigi L. Lemoncello (Russell Roberts) turns an abandoned bank building into a futuristic library and devises a unique challenge to tweens to celebrate its opening. The winners of an essay contest are treated to a night in the one-of-a-kind library, cracking clues and solving puzzles to find their way out and win the game. It's a dream come true for Mr. Lemoncello's biggest fan, Kyle (Casey Simpson), who teams up with his friends Sierra (Klarke Pipkin) and Akimi (Breanna Yde) to outsmart their nemesis, Chiltington. With storybook characters and other surprises at every turn, there's no telling how this adventure will end.
Is it any good?
Grabenstein's well-received mystery story inspires this wacky movie that's all fast-paced fun and laughs. Reminiscent of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the story features characters at the mercy of the whims of a peculiar gaming genius and his elaborate (and frequently malfunctioning) library. While they solve riddles and break codes, the kids must also elude storybook characters and work together, even with difficult peers.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library's numerous nods to books and stories will delight those who are familiar with them, and they could encourage kids' interest in those they haven't read or heard. The story also raises some worthwhile talking points about getting along with others and about bullying, which is prominent in one character's behavior until he has a change of heart. For parents, it's a great opportunity to show how bullying affects other people and why it's important to consider peers' feelings when relating to them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role of libraries in their lives. Do you and your family visit a library on a regular basis? What services other than books do libraries provide?
Kids: Which characters in this story were familiar to you from books you've read or heard? What role do they play in Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library?
How do these characters demonstrate teamwork as they complete the challenge? Does teamwork always come easy to the group? How do they resolve conflict when it arises? Why do you think it's an important character strength?
Find more TV shows that help kids build character.
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