Chris Grabenstein: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Chris Grabenstein, charming and personable author of the John Ceepak mysteries, has now veered into young adult territory, with striking success.  He has a few books he’s written with James Patterson for middle grade readers, and this one, a standalone, is pretty much an instant classic.  Bearing a similarity to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in format, this fun volume is a love letter to libraries, reading and enthusiastic young readers everywhere.

MrLemoncellosLibraryMuch like Willy Wonka, Mr. Lemoncello is a legendary figure, a puzzle and game creator extraordinaire.  He’s also rehabbing the local library in Alexandriaville, Ohio, and he’s holding a contest to let twelve lucky twelve-year-olds be the first patrons of the new town library.  They’ll be locked in for a weekend of fun, games and puzzles.  All the kids have to do to get to be one of the twelve is write an essay telling why they want to be a part of the new library opening. read more

Carl Hiaasen: Flush

Unlike my friend Shelly Kelly, owner of the late, lamented Afterwords bookstore, I am not an expert on kids’ books or kids’ mysteries, and we sell only a very small slice of what’s available. Most of what we sell is stuff we like and remember from when we were kids, like Harriet the Spy, or kids’ series books like Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, etc., and there is now a new category – books by authors who also write adult fiction. If you’ve read any of Carl Hiaasen’s books for adults you might be surprised that he would be writing for kids – no swear words or violence? – but what he is at heart is a wonderful storyteller and he certainly remembers what it’s like to be an adolescent boy. In a market glutted with fiction aimed at girls this is a breath of fresh air. Stripped of the above mentioned violence and swear words, Hiaasen writes a great story, and he retains the humor that is so happily laced throughout his adult novels. His first outing, Hoot, won the Newberry Medal, and Flush is every bit as good. read more