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A Puzzle Mystery

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
New York Times Bestseller
ALSC Notable Book
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library movie

Can twelve 12-year-olds escape from the most ridiculously brilliant library ever created?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library plunks a dozen sixth-graders into the middle of a futuristic library for a night of nonstop fun and adventure.

In a nod to Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this fast-paced new novel features an eccentric billionaire who welcomes a group of children into a fantasy setting full of weird, wondrous touches.

Kyle is a game fan—board games, word games, and especially video games! Kyle's hero, the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello, is the genius behind the design of the town's new public library, which contains not only books, but an IMAX theater, an electronic learning center, instructional holograms, interactive dioramas and electromagnetic hover ladders that float patrons up to the books they want.

Lucky Kyle wins a spot as one of the first twelve kids invited to a gala, overnight library lock-in filled with of fun and games. But the next morning, when the lock-in is supposed to be over, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the others must follow book-related clues and unravel all sorts of secret puzzles to find the hidden escape route if they want to win Mr. Lemoncello's most fabulous prize ever.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is more than a rib-tickling novel full of humor and suspense. It's a game in itself, in which readers can have fun solving clues and answering riddles while learning how to navigate the Dewey Decimal system. Eagle-eyed kids—not to mention their parents, teachers, and librarians—can also hunt for the names of authors and classic books sprinkled throughout the fast-moving story.

Rumor has it there is even one puzzle that is in the book but not in the story. Can you find and solve it?

Random House Children's

Random House Children's

Random House Children's

To purchase a personalized copy, please contact:
Book Culture on Columbus
450 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY, 10024
Phone 212-595-1962


Random House Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, June 2013, ISBN: 978-0375870897
Yearling, Trade Paperback, September 2017, ISBN: 978-0525580379

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library Yellow T-shirtEscape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library Coffee MugEscape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library Blue T-shirt

 Mr. Lemoncello's Emporium Of Mugs, Shirts, and other Fun Stuff


 Mr. Lemoncello's Great Library Escape Game

Darrell Robertson
Darrell Robertson, one of the Children's Services Librarians at the Finksburg Branch of the Carroll County, MD Library System who helped design the game for libraries everywhere!


 Mr. Lemoncello's Gloriously Historical and Somewhat Hysterical Gala.

Darrell Robertson
Fifth Grade teacher Sid Reischer and Librarian Stacey Rattner at Castleton Elementary have come up with a fun Lemoncello-ish way to do biography projects (with cake and balloons, too)!

Children's Literature Assembly of NCTE


Honors for Mr. Lemoncello!


Lemoncello State Award Map
Click the map to see it bigger!

2014-2015 Beehive Book Award (Utah) Nominee
2014-2015 Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (Maryland) Winner!
2015 Blue Hen Award (Delaware) Winner!

Children's Literature Assembly of NCTE 2016 Bluestem Award (Illinois) Nominee
2014 Buckeye Children's & Teen Book Award (Ohio) Winner!
2016-2017 California Young Reader Medal
2016 Charlotte Award (New York State Reading Association) Nominee
2014 Children's Choice Awards of Allegheny County (greater Pittsburgh, PA region) Winner!
2014 Children's Literature Assembly of NCTE Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts
2015 Colorado Children's Book Award List
2014-2015 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's (Vermont) Book Award Winner!
2015 Flicker Tale Children's Award (North Dakota) Winner!
2016 Garden State Children's Book Award (New Jersey) Winner!
2014-2015 Georgia Children's Book Award Nominee
2018 Golden Archer (Wisconsin) Award Nominee
2015 Golden Cowbell Award (International School Librarians teaching in Switzerland) Winner!
2015-2016 Golden Sower (Nebraska) Award Winner!
2016 Grand Canyon Reader Award (Arizona) Winner!
2014-2015 Great Lakes Great Books Award (Michigan) Nominee
2014-2015 Great Stone Face Award (New Hampshire) Winner!
Nerdie Award 2017-2018 Indian Paintbrush (Wyoming) Book Award Winner!
2015-2016 Iowa Children's Choice Award Nominee
2016 Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award Nominee
2016 Magnolia Award (Mississippi) Winner!
2014-2015 Maine Student Book Award Winner!
2015-2016 Mark Twain Readers Award (Missouri) Winner!
2016 Massachusetts Children's Book Award
2015-2016 Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award (Minnesota Young Reader Award) Winner!
2015 Nēnē Award (Hawaii) Nominee
2016 Nēnē Award (Hawaii) Nominee
2017 Nēnē Award (Hawaii) Nominee
2016 North Carolina Children's Book Award
2016-2017 Nutmeg Book Award (Connecticut) Nominee
2016 Oregon Readers Choice Award Winner!
2016 Pacific Northwest Library Association's Young Readers' Choice Award Winner!
2014-2015 Panda Book Awards (International Librarians in China) Nominee
2014-2015 Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee
2014-2015 Prairie Pasque (South Dakota) Nominee
2014-2015 Rhode Island Children's Book Award Winner!
2015 Sakura Medal List (International Schools in Japan) Winner!

2014-2015 South Carolina Children's Book Award Nominee
2014-2015 Sunshine State Young Reader Award (Florida) Winner!
2015-2016 Virginia's Reader's Choice State Book Award Winner!
2015-2016 Volunteer State Book Award (Tennessee) Winner!
2015-2016 William Allen White Kansas State Award Winner!
2015-2016 Young Hoosier (Indiana) Book Award Winner!
GoodReads Choice Awards
ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Books
Agatha Award Winner: Best Children's/YA Mystery
Anthony Award Nominee: Best Children's or Young Adult Novel
Association for Library Service to Children's "TWEEN RECOMMENDED READS"
2014 Bank Street's Best Books of the Year for Children and Young Adults
Goodreads Choice Nominee 2013
2013 Nerdie Winner (Nerdy Book Club)

Chosen as a Best Book of 2013 by:
  • The Washington Post
  • Southern California Public Radio
  • Amazon
  • Parents Magazine
  • The Columbus Dispatch
  • Atlanta Parents Magazine
  • Chris' Mom

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Original Cover

"The author of numerous mysteries for children and adults turns his hand to a puzzle adventure with great success...Grabenstein cleverly uses the tools of board and video games—hints and tricks and escape hatches—to enhance this intricate and suspenseful story.
Full of puzzles to think about, puns to groan at and references to children's book titles, this solid, tightly plotted read is a winner for readers and game-players alike." Starred Review

"Here's an instantly engaging and wildly creative mystery that is sure to have readers looking at their humble local library in a new light...An ode to libraries and literature that is a worthy successor to the original madman puzzle-master himself, Willy Wonka." Starred Review

"A fun-filled, suspenseful intellectual puzzle, designed by a gamer, that will appeal to fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society." Starred Review
—Shelf Awareness

"Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is part Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, part A Night in the Museum, and a whole lot of fun...With a delightful cast of characters and the homey feel of family game night, Chris Grabenstein's novel mimics elements of two beloved classics but stands on its own merit as a sure fire winner with young readers." Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2013
—Seira Wilson

"Librarians and English teachers will happily recommend this adventurous romp from Grabenstein (the Riley Mack books), which pays playful homage to books and libraries while engaging readers in a fast-paced competition involving research and reasoning skills...Book lovers will relish the lavish sprinkling of book titles and references while puzzle fans will enjoy figuring out the clues. A lighthearted parody of reality survival shows, the book reinvigorates the debate over the Dewey Decimal system and traditional library skills while celebrating teamwork, perseverance, and clever wits."
—Publishers Weekly

"Book and game lovers alike will delve into this delicious tale and put on their thinking caps."
—School Library Journal

"Take Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and mash it up with The Westing Game or The Wright 3 and you get Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. It's the type of book kids will re-read to get all of the clues AND try to find another puzzle hidden in the book. Awesomeness with whipped cream on top."
—St. Charles City-County Library Districts

"This is an absolutely wonderful middle grade book that book lovers of any age will enjoy."
—Pub Writes

"...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...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."
—TWC Central (read the full review)

"Chris Grabenstein's fresh new YA mystery is packed with puzzles, games, and excitement! Kyle and company are on a race against time (and Charles!), and they have to learn how to use the Dewey decimal system, decode messages, and work together to find the exit.
As much as I enjoyed the games and the mystery, my favorite place was the library itself. Several stories high, it's filled with every book and game imaginable—and some too amazing to even be real! I want to visit!
—Jack and Jill Magazine

"Chris Grabenstein's Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a quick-paced romp that will satisfy puzzle fanatics."
—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (read the full review)

"...ranks among some of the top novels for middle-graders that deal with solving puzzles. It will stretch readers' minds, yet the book also provides all the clues necessary for the solution.
It's a great summer read for the pure fun of it, yet it also sharpens readers' intelligence—they can't help but be on the alert for clues. It's also a terrific family read-aloud; children as young as seven can easily follow along with delight."
—Twenty By Jenny (read the full review)

"This is a book that will quickly be clutched to the bosoms of children's librarians, library lovers, and children's book fans everywhere. But even kids who don't much care for books or libraries (for example, Kyle Keeley at the beginning of the story), will find much to like in this book where book titles, holograms, lifelines, cheating by the really snooty-snotty kid combine to a breakneck race to the finish as the kids have to figure a way to get OUT of Mr. Lemoncello's remarkable library."
—Provo Library Children's Book Review

"A new novel for tweens is turning the idea of summertime reading inside out with a puzzle premise that pulls readers into an actual game. If you're nudging and tugging a reluctant reader through the long days of summer, Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein might just be the book that throws the door open wide...Grabenstein has twisted together threads to tempt even kids who try their best to bury summertime reading underneath the couch cushions...After spending a night in Mr. Lemoncello's Library, both Kyle and your tween may discover they are fans of books as well!"
—GrabWorthy (read the full review)

"Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library has a classic, timeless feel...I absolutely love Mr. Lemoncello's ethos and it makes a brilliant backbone of the plot."
—Books4YourKids.com (read the full review)

"I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Chris Grabenstein's book, Escape from Mr. Lemocello's Library—what more could you want? A library that is also a puzzle with plenty of clues, children's book references, and enough action to keep you turning the pages to the end!
The characters were well developed and puzzles were a lot of fun to try and figure out along with the characters, and I must say, the description of this library makes me green with envy!"
—Literacious (read the full review)

"...the best elements of dozens of books are neatly woven into the fabric of this one. Readers can crack the puzzles or just hang on for the ride with this fast-paced, funny and smart celebration of one of the great tenets of libraries everywhere—the encouragement to think for yourself."
—The Argus Leader (read the full review)

"Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a brilliantly conceived adventure novel...Part of the fun here as a reader is trying to figure out what the solution is together with the teams. (It's not as easy as one might think!) And as if any additional tension is needed, towards the end there is a ticking clock (in the form of a disembodied voice) counting down the minutes until the game is over. This is a well crafted and plotted book, but best of all, an exciting and most entertaining one."
—Mysterious Reviews

"Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is the type of book that will capture the imaginations of middle readers for decades to come. Chris Grabenstein has written a modern classic that is just begging to be read by all...one for the keeper shelf."
—BookLoons (read the full review)

"With a wonderful combination of adventure, humor, and a hodgepodge of fun facts, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is meant to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike, and will be for years to come. Allusions to other great children's books provide nice segues for books to read next."
—ReadKiddoRead.com (read the full review)

"Chocked full of puzzles, riddles, and all kinds of clever literary allusions, you'll definitely want to add this one to your summer reading list. When I finished the last page, I sighed with contentment and said aloud, 'Now that was a fun book!'"
—The Librarian's Daughter (read the full review)

"Quite honestly, all of the accolades I've seen for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library don't do it justice. This book is so good and ideal for middle grade readers—even those reluctant ones. It's funny, interesting, intriguing, imaginative, original and thought-provoking; and better yet, it's a page turner."
—Booking Mama (read the full review)

"Do not pass go; do not collect $200; just go straight to Lemoncello's Library."
—Jen's Book Thoughts (read the full review)

"This is a great summer read for gamers, book worms and mystery fans."
—ChicagoNow.com (read the full review)

"Chris Grabenstein pulls out all the stops in this cross between CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and THE NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. The engaging blend of mystery, adventure and humor makes for a speedy read. Grabenstein creates an (inter)active reading experience that is sure to win over both bookworms and game-lovers. No matter their age, readers will enjoy playing along with the characters as they face brainteasers, picture puzzles and a who's who game of classic authors and titles. Without giving anything away...Grabenstein has even planted a secret bonus puzzle for clever readers to solve."
—Emma Kantor, KidsRead.com

"Teachers and librarians will want this because of the many references to great children's titles, historical figures, the positive aspects of teamwork it promotes, and the pro-library message. Kids will read this simply because it's fun, fun, fun!"
—BroadartVibe (read the full review)

"Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a cover to cover celebration of books...The combination of quirky puzzles, cutting-edge technology, and adventure sequences (racing around the library building, climbing things, getting stuck, etc.) is what will make Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library a must-purchase title for libraries serving middle grade readers. As Mr. Lemoncello tells the kids' parents, 'It'll be like The Hunger Games but with lots of food and no bows or arrows.' What 10-year-old could resist that?"
—Jen Robinson's Book Page (read the full review)

"Chris Grabenstein's Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a perfect summer mystery for tweens, an incredibly clever and literate story...Puzzle and adventure lovers 9-12 will love this brilliant and clever book and so will their parents."
—My Daily Find

"Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein is a must-read. With an amazing setting and twists and turns in every chapter you won't want to put down the book. You will be devestated when you are done with the book wanting more. Grabenstein does a great job of getting you to connect with his characters. This book is 100% worth reading."
—Taylor, age 12, Eight Cousins

Note from Eight Cousins: Escape from Mr Lemoncello's Library is like a love letter to children's books. It is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets The Westing Game, but in what is sure to become known as "the best library ever." EVER. The story is crammed with fun references to children's books old and new. Do not miss this phenomenal book!


Skype Logo

Class Skyping with Chris

Chris loves making virtual visits to libraries and classrooms via Skype. If you're a teacher or a librarian just shoot Chris an e-mail to make all the arrangements. It's Fee Free, too!


Game Spinner

Sherlock Silhouette

There is one puzzle in Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library that's in the book but not the story—although a clue about how to find and solve it is.

If you think you've figured it out, e-mail your answer to Chris to see if you are one of the most ridiculously brilliant readers in the entire known (and, perhaps, the unknown) universe.


Girl Reading Silhouette
The Library That Inspired Mr. Lemoncello's Library!

P.S. 10 library in Brooklyn

Several years ago, Chris made his first of many Author Visits to one of his favorite schools: P.S. 10 in Brooklyn, New York. The librarian, Ms. Macrina (pictured with Chris) told him how the school's marvelous library had been donated by a very generous benefactor.

That sent the chipmunks spinning on the treadmills in Chris' mind. "What if a very generous and eccentric benefactor donated the world's most amazing library to the small Ohio town where he grew up?" Years later that little idea has become Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library!

Sadly, Mrs. Macrina passed away in October 2015. That's why the dedication to the second Lemoncello book, MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY OLYMPICS, includes this passage:

And in Memory of Rosanne Macrina, the long time librarian at P.S. 10 in Brooklyn who inspired so many children and one author who was very lucky to have met her.