It is hard to imagine growing up without a local public library. Kyle Keeley and his peers have. Twelve years ago, just before they were born, Alexandriaville tore down its library to build a parking garage. Now its most prominent citizen, the wealthy game inventor Luigi Lemoncello, is about to dedicate a new library he has had built. Kyle and the other seventh graders in his school have participated in an essay writing contest, in the hopes of being chosen to spend the night before the grand opening exploring this mysterious building.
Kyle manages to be chosen as one of the twelve winners, along with his two best friends and an assortment of other youngsters including the class bookworm, an aspiring model and the back-stabbing son of the most influential man in town. (Readers will surely see where this story is headed from the get-go.) Locked inside the library for 24 hours, the students who decide to stay for the duration of the “game” must find a way out of the library. The first to do so will become the spokesperson for Mr. Lemoncello’s company. Equipped with all the resources of a normal library, a variety of game show gimmicks and outside consultants reminiscent of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”, Kyle and his classmates race to see who can find the secret exit first.
Chris Grabenstein’s book is sure to please younger readers in its intended audience. The plot, while highly predictable, is embellished with enough bells and whistles to keep their attention. Although some of the puzzles the characters need to decipher are confusing, this does not render the story incomprehensible. Two worthwhile messages resurface almost too often: reading is fun and teamwork is better than competition. This lighthearted and fast-paced story may not convince reluctant readers to join a book club, but it will certainly entertain them.
Jennifer Minicus is a teacher and mother currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.