Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Island of Dr. Libris

22856146Grabenstein, Chris. The Island of Dr. Libris.
March 24th 2015 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Public library copy

N.B. While book related, this is NOT a sequel to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library! I somehow thought it was.

Billy is forced to spend the summer at a lake, in a cabin with his mother, who is working on her doctoral dissertation, and thus does not have much time for him. His father, a freewheeling sort, is going back to the city; his parents have not been getting along. Billy notices that there is not a television in the cabin, and after he breaks his iPhone rescuing five-year-old neighbor Alyssa's doll from a tree, he figures the only way to entertain himself is to investigate Dr. Libris' very cool library, especially since bully Nick Farkas is there to berate him the minute he steps out the door of the cabin. Soon, Billy is reading the story of Hercules... and hearing Hercules! He finds out that on an island not far from the cabin, stories come to life! Alyssa's brother Walter (who has asthma and is also a victim of Farkas') is soon introduced, and the two boys bring all manner of stories to life, from Pollyanna, Robin Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk to Space Lizard and a wizarding card game. We see Dr. Libris' lab notes-- he is experimenting with brain waves and making things materialize on the island for later monetary gain. Soon, Billy thinks that he can solve all of his problems by using the magic of the island.
Strengths: Very fun FANTASY concept, and a very cool library. Billy and Walter are decent protagonists. Could do worse for a summer read. The notes at the back listing the different books included are helpful.
Weaknesses: The accents/speech patterns used by different characters seemed odd, and the inclusion of fake fictional characters (ones made up by Grabenstein just for this book) along with characters from books got a bit confusing.
What I really think: Meh. I can't get anyone to check out Lowry's The Willoughbys, so may pass on this one. I adored Mr. Lemoncello, and this just wasn't quite as good.


Jen Robinson said...

For what it's worth, I liked Mr. Lemoncello's Library a lot, but didn't even get through this one. It felt contrived to me. I'm reassured to see your "meh" response to it.

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