Book Review

Riley Mack & The Other Known Troublemakers – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★☆   (4 / 5 stars)
Audio Book Performance: ★★★★☆  (4 / 5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★☆  (4 / 5 stars)

Riley Mack has a reputation around town as a troublemaker, although most of the rumors aren’t true. Yes, he stole an ice cream cake years ago…but he had made a point since then to stop! With his rag-tag team of troublemakers – Briana, Ben, Mongo, and Jamal – Riley is on the case. Whether it is to rescue innocent sixth graders or find a lost dog, Riley will stay by his side until the end. But as his searches continue, a deeper plot unravels. Can Riley save the day? Or should he leave it to the adults?

While this novel is relatively predictable, Riley Mack and his crew are a fun, relatable cohort to whom most children will relate. Each member of the crew proves to be a valuable asset: Briana is the actress that can send people astray, Mongo is the guy who will stick with his friends to the end, Ben can crack any puzzle via his computer, Jamal can crack any lock and is eager to learn, and Riley will lead them all no matter how difficult the endeavor. No other crew of troublemakers could solve all the problems brewing in the town!

Did the story border on unrealistic to some extent? Yes. But children stories are supposed to deposit the reader into the unimaginable! Instead of a world that follows the strict order of law, this story shows that children have what it takes to tackle whatever challenges them! It’s like most modern day cartoons…and it was fun! Isn’t that all we’re asking from in middle grade novels?

I think Grabenstein did a great job weaving together all the intricate little pieces. Already, I have read two books by Chris Grabenstein, and while the stories themselves are predictable, the puzzle pieces that he manages to weave throughout the narratives are what make these stories wonderful. As an adult reader, I find them fun and enjoyable. Children will love them even more!

So I’d say check this, or any of Grabenstein’s other stories, out! They’re definitely worth the time for you or for your children!

What’s it about?

What do you get when you add up one middle school bully, two bank robbers, 57 puppy-mill dogs, 4,000 missing dollars, and five daring troublemakers led by the incomparable Riley Mack? One crazy caper! In this merry, mischievous romp, master storyteller Chris Grabenstein, the award-winning author of Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, teams with a full-cast of audio talent to introduce Riley Mack, a one-of-a-kind 12-year-old hometown hero.

Book Review

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★☆  (3.75 / 5 stars)
Audio Book Performance: ★★★★☆  (4 / 5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★☆  (3.85 / 5 stars)

Kyle Keeley is your normal 12-year old boy. He likes playing a wide variety of video and board games, while he hates reading. So why would he care about the new library opening in town? But then he learns that Mr. Luigi Lemoncello, the creator of some of Kyle’s favorite games, is also the primary benefactor of the new library, Kyle is determined to be a part of the lock-in on opening night. But…just like all of Mr. Lemoncello’s games…there’s a surprise! When morning comes, all twelve kids are still locked inside the library…and they have 24 hours to escape and win an amazing prize!

In a story reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Night at the Museum, and other classic tales, we venture with Kyle and his friends Akimi, Miguel, and Sierra as they try to escape the library and win. Along the way, they are presented with challenging puzzles and cheating classmates that bring their biggest talents to the head. No one’s skills are left unturned, and each child is quickly presented as a valuable member of the team.

The lessons in Mr. Lemoncello’s Library are the types that many children can take as they read the story. Teamwork is preferred, selflessness is rewarded, and cheaters are villainous. In addition to these lessons on teamwork, an innate curiosity about local libraries and reading is planted throughout the pages. While children will be swept away by the magic of Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, they will also (hopefully) want to venture to their own library as well.

This is overall a fun story that children will enjoy. In fact, I had fun listening to it as well. Yes, it is predicable, and some pieces are a little dated (for instance mentioning the PS3 and some books that might not be popular bookshelves today), but overall it is a fun-take on a Willy Wonka styled story. Will I pick up the sequel? Perhaps one day. While it’s not on the top of my reading list, it is definitely a library I would like to explore again.

So whoever you are, go on an adventure at your local library…and maybe pick up a story about Mr. Lemoncello’s Library as well!

What’s it about?

When Kyle Keeley learns that the world’s world’s most famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has designed the town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock-in on opening night, Kyle is determined to be there! But the tricky part isn’t getting into the library—it’s getting out. Because when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must catch every clue and solve every puzzle to find the hidden escape route!