This homage to CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is clearly geared toward the boy reluctant reader, but Lilah and I thought it was fun. Alexandriaville hasn’t had a public library in twelve years, but its most famous citizen, game creator Luigi Lemoncello, is about to change all that with a state-of-the-art library built in the old bank building. To celebrate, he’s inviting twelve twelve-year-olds for an overnight library lock-in so they can preview all the wonders within before the official opening. Our hero is Kyle, who is not much of a reader, but who loves games (board and video) and decides to enter the essay contest for the overnight stay when he’s grounded from his own video games. The lock-in seems like the perfect workaround.

When the party is over the next morning, the kids are given the option to participate in  extra festivities: figure out how to exit the library without using the front door. Clues will be provided. Most of the kids decide to participate. There’s one Mean Kid who will obviously be the archenemy of Kyle. Or, rather, of Kyle’s team, because he gathers kids to work together. Lilah is a very cooperative child, and we both liked this aspect of the book. The clues the kids work through to find the way out are fun and interactive.

Were the characters really complex? No. Was the plot riveting and unpredictable? No. But Grabenstein captured the elements of whimsy and magic that I loved in CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and Lilah and I had a great time reading this. At the end are clues to a final puzzle and lists of all the books mentioned throughout the story.

Source disclosure: Lilah received this book as a gift.