“Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game” by Chris Grabenstein is the newest entry into the series that kids love to read. Kyle Keeley, the main character, is up against his arch enemy, Charles Chiltington, whose motto is: Chiltingtons never lose. Yet until this book, Charles has lost at all of Lemoncello’s games. When this new “All-Star Breakout” game is announced, he makes sure he won’t lose.
Kyle assembles a team with his friends, and as usual, Charles tries trickery and dishonesty to keep Kyle out of the game. Readers love to hate Charles, as he smarmily compliments teachers and the librarian so they will adore him and follow his nefarious suggestions. (Note: most teachers would not be so gullible!)
But Kyle is the kind of main character who does things the right way. He is a true role model: unselfish, humble, kind, thoughtful, and aware of his shortcomings. On the other hand, Charles will stoop to anything to win the game.
This game is brilliant. It’s different than the other games which relied on knowledge of books because in this game the players become characters in fiction. They must decide the ending and find the clues to open the four color-coded locks to get out of the library. Grabenstein manages to give readers a feeling for all the characters — the good and the not-so-good characters. He also gives readers — and Kyle — more insight into the life of Charles Chiltington. It’s not pretty.
And while the game isn’t about actual books but rather fictional settings, Grabenstein includes many literary references along the way. When introducing Luigi L. Lemoncello, the announcer says, “His favorite chicken dish is Artemis Fowl.” And Lemoncello says, “Well, not to be mysterious like the Benedict Society…” all references to popular and classic children’s books.
The good guys win, fun is had by all (or almost all), and readers will turn the pages to see what happens next in this action-filled middle grade fiction. It’s filled with humor, puzzles, and action. Start reading this series with “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library,” then read “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics,” and then read “Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race” before reading this one. This series is a perfect choice for summer reading!
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Random House, the publisher, for review purposes.