Yes, my Dear Readers, it is time to leave the real world behind and escape on a whimsical flight of fantasy. Pack your bags my little darlings because we are going on a literary adventure to the children’s shelves to compare one of the best-loved children’s books of all time to a more recent bestseller.

On today’s Teen Book Battle we have Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vs. Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library…

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the story of a handful of very fortunate children collected from all around the world and permitted an exclusive behind the scenes look at a reclusive candy maker’s secret compound. The story centers on Charlie Bucket,  a boy from an impoverished family who dreams of entering Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. In Charlie’s story he faces long odds to find the “golden ticket” that promises the adventure of a lifetime.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is the story of a handful of very fortunate children selected from a single school in Mr. Lemoncello’s hometown to celebrate the eccentric game maker’s newly constructed library. The story centers on Kyle Keeley, a boy who loves games and puzzles very much and admires their creator Mr. Lemoncello even more. In Kyle’s story he blows off some extra credit essay and nearly misses out on an opportunity to attend a lock-in inside Mr. Lemoncello’s library.

Both of these stories provide imagination playgrounds for their readers. Both of these stories have a handful of interesting characters and both stories have quixotic old rich men calling the shots.

Most people are probably familiar with Willy Wonka from either the book, or one of the two movies. So allow me to formally introduce you to Mr. Luigi Lemoncello. He made his first boardgame while at the library with the help of his favorite librarian, since then he’s made millions selling all sorts of games. Now he is back in town and dabbling in philanthropy.

Instead of Oompa Loompas, Lemoncello has librarians to do his work. Dr. Z. is a modern librarian, she’s trendy with an eye for detail and a take no prisoners approach to library services. Mrs. Tobin is back in service as a hologram working the reference services in Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.

There are some very naughty and some very nice kids that get access to both the Chocolate Factory and the Library. Some of the naughtiest kids learn some very hard lessons and the nice kids get some pretty amazing rewards for being decent human beings. If I get more specific I might go into spoiler territory and that’s a big no-no.

I heard about Mr. Lemoncello’s Library before it came out, and I had a Veruca Salt moment. I was like…


Then I found it on Overdrive, and downloaded it as an e-book and it was like I found the golden ticket. Seriously, I had my own magical moment as the book downloaded to my phone.

I won’t lie to you guys, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library starts out strong. There’s not much I love more than books, but board games are one of my favorite things. As Kyle Keeley raced his brothers to the finish line, I was totally feeling it. BUT… somewhere along the way the story got a little less engaging, the puzzles and games weren’t as intuitive as the author tried to make them appear. Good games are intuitive and good books are engaging. The book made a strong recovery at the end, but the lull in the middle means it might not be a good match for reluctant readers.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of those books I was force-fed during my school days. I hate assigned reading almost as much as I love chocolate. (Um, I LOVE chocolate.) When I opened Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I’m ashamed to say that I was determined to hate the book. BUT… somewhere along the way the story actually started engaging me.

As you know there can only be one true winner for Wednesday’s Teen Book Battle let’s finish this before you race to the shelves to find a book!

If you are looking for a read-a-like after enjoying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or The Mysterious Benedict Society (or some other books about clever children solving riddles and going on adventures) Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is an exceptionally charming book and I recommend it for you wholeheartedly! If, however, you didn’t like those books, or haven’t read those books, you may find them more thoroughly engaging.

Charlie wins this Teen Book Battle.

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