Thursday, April 9, 2015

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library

 Grabenstein, Chris.  Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library.  NY: Random House, c2013. 

This fun mystery romp takes place in the new library in Kyle Keeley's town.  The town has been without a library for 12 years, and the new library was financed by a local boy who made good as a game creator, first in board games, and then in computer games.  He decides to hold a contest and the writers of the 12 winning essays get to spend the first night in the new library.

Kyle is somewhat of a clown, loves to play all kinds of games, and does not really work up to his potential in school, a trait he comes to regret when he finds out what the essay he didn't write might have won for him.  Mr. Lemoncello is one of his heroes, the creator of the games he loves to play.  Kyle decides to submit an essay late, and it pays off when he gets selected to be one of the 12 lucky students.  You  might like this book based only on the mystery aspect of it which is fun, but if you love books and have read a lot, you might find yourself using the checklist provided in the back of the book to figure out how many of the books mentioned are ones you have read, and trying to solve the mystery on your own.

Kyle is just a nice kid, full of mischief, but someone you'd like for a friend.  Someone you could count on.

This book is on the Iowa Teen Award reading list for 2015-2016.  It is recommended for junior high.  Review by Mrs. Belknap

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

Van Draanen, Wendelin.  Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief.  NY: Dell Yearling, c1998.

After noticing the popularity of The Running Dream by this author, I found that she had written a series of mystery books starring a 7th grade girl named Sammy Keyes.  This is the first book in the series but they continue on until the final book published in September of 2014 titled Sammy Keyes and the Kiss Goodbye.

Sammy is spunky, lively, curious and thoughtful, though she does have the habit of leaping into adventures before she thinks.  Sammy's life is not like a normal junior high kid.  She lives with her grandmother, and that in itself is part of her story.  To combat boredom, she begins using her Grandmother's binoculars to look around the neighborhood (let's not use the word SPY), and something she sees begins her first adventure.  Sammy and her best friend Marissa get involved in solving the mystery and even though observant Sammy tries to get help from the police, the officer thinks she's just a snot-nosed kid looking for attention.  If you like mysteries, you'll like these books, and you will laugh at Sammy's funny observations and scrapes.

Recommended for junior high.   Review by Mrs. Belknap

The Lost Sisterhood

Fortier, Anne.  The Lost Sisterhood.  NY: Ballantine, c2014.

In this book we follow Diana Morgan as she becomes involved in a mysterious trip to an archaeological site in Northern Africa.  She went against advice from her colleagues and her common sense, but was so intrigued by the promise that her favorite topic was involved, the Amazons, that she left common sense behind.  That decision took her on a lengthy and dangerous journey throughout the Mediterranean.  

The story is told in alternating chapters,  first from Diana's perspective and then from the perspective of Myrina, the first Amazon Queen.  Myrina's story begins with the tragic loss of her mother and the Greek pirate raid that took her sister and other members of the Moon Goddess temple into captivity.  Determined to get them back, Myrina faces incredible odds and an adventure she could never have dreamed of.

Throughout both stories, the reader is drawn into the real and mythical history of the Mediterranean civilizations including Greece and Troy.  While the story is fiction, there are many factual references that will make you want to have a reference nearby for digging further into the fascinating story.

While intended for adults, this is a good read for high school as well, and the sexual content is largely hinted at rather than graphic and only near the end of the story.  Recommended for grade 11 and above.

Review by Mrs. Belknap