July Page Master Selections

So, what’d you think?! Let’s discuss…

MrLemoncellosLibrary

First off, as a bibliophile bookworm, I consider libraries to be a sort of Mecca, or holy place. When I enter a library, I feel at peace in its sanctuary and emboldened the vast wealth waiting to by plucked from a shelf. So the setting of the book had me hooked, as did the premise that these kids did not have library for their entire lives. I don’t think I would ever leave a library like Mr. Lemoncello’s.

In the story, Mr. Lemoncello says, “Knowledge not shared, remains unknown.” And author Chris Grabenstein says that the library is the place where all of mankind can come together to share that knowledge.

What other places do you go to share knowledge? How are they better or worse than a library? What stories could you tell about them?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library was inspired by the author’s school visit at P.S. 10 in Brooklyn, NY. When the school librarian, Ms. Macrina, told him that it was “donated by a very generous benefactor” he had a “WHAT IF…?” idea.

What “WHAT IF…?” ideas do you have?

What did you think of the characters?

My favorite was Sierra Russell because I was just like her. Only, I still can’t name more than two of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novels. And I haven’t read either of them. But there is something so powerful in reading about a character that is like you. It is a little like looking in a mirror and understanding more about yourself, and how others see you. Mirror-characters point out your strengths and weaknesses. For example, like Sierra, I sometimes separate myself from a crowd of people when I sit and read. It is my favorite thing to do, but sometimes I miss out on opportunities for discovering what is in the real world around me. There is a time and place for exploring literature, and for exploring your surroundings.

Did you find a mirror-character of yourself? Or did you learn anything about yourself from reading the book?

Finally, about the puzzles and the mystery…

I was horrible at the rebus puzzles. I did NOT get “ewe” or “weigh” from the pictures. My mind was stuck on things like, “wool, sheep, baa” and “yoga, bend.” I’m glad Charlie (for being as rotten as he is) explained it.

I was also a little disappointed that the themes or messages from some of the novels featured in the library weren’t utilized to make more complex puzzles. Since Sierra-bookworm and Miguel-libraryman knew the ins and outs of the books and the library coding system, I would have liked to see those aspects more fully developed. A clue using the title of the books, rather than just their starting letters, or having to decode a line from the story using another line. I think that might have also been a good way to introduce people to more books to read after the finish Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.

Did you figure it out before Kyle and his friends?

What was your favorite puzzle? Least favorite?

But, did you know that Christ Grabenstein created the Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Escape Game that you can play in your own hometown library? Just ask your librarian to go to this website and you can find out more information.


WrightBrothers

I ended up buying three copies of this book, because I couldn’t wait to share it. You’re welcome, David McCullough (not that two extra sales make that much a difference to such a large first edition printing).

I originally bought this as an audio book to enjoy in the car. When I picked it up at the bookstore and read the first page, I began skimming through a L-O-N-G paragraph of description to get to the ‘action.’ So, I was a little worried that if I bought a hard copy, I would skim over much of the story and end up skipping some of the fascinating details McCullough provides on the time period and the larger contributing factors to the Wright Brothers’ success. I knew that I couldn’t skim through an audio book, so viola! It was my first audio book, and boy, was it a good decision. Those details I worried about skipping, hooked my from the get-go.

What did you think about the meticulously researched details?

Are you like me, when you check out a book at the store? Do you look through the paragraphs and sample the writing style? Admire the cover art? What was your fist judgement of the book?

I was only a third of the way into this book when I realized I wanted to give it to my uncle as a gift, and then two thirds of the way through it when I bought the hardback so that I could open it up, dig through it and access the footnotes and bibliography. That’s how much I loved it.

David McCullough made the research blend effortlessly into the narrative. I got a wonderful sense of who Wilbur and Orville (and Katherine) could be based on the diary and letter excerpts the author included. I especially loved the incident Orville tells with the mouse at Kitty Hawk. Of all the details to include, something so ordinary (and seemingly) unrelated to the actual business of inventing and flying airplanes made the characters come alive for me. Couldn’t you just imagine the brothers chasing this poor mouse around the house with a rifle?

What in the story brought the characters alive for you?

Who was your favorite character, or which character do you wish you could meet in real life?

I was also surprised at the expanse of the story. Up until reading The Wright Brothers, I knew only that the Wright Brothers flew the first motorized airplane in North Carolina. Therefore, I was expecting the story to culminate with the successful flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903, and was pleasantly surprised when that was only the beginning!

David McCullough couched his story well, framing it first with the brothers’ decision to never fly together so they could protect their research and progress, and finally with their flight together in Ohio as a declaration that they had accomplished their goal of human flight. As an aspiring author, I admire that decision and its effectiveness in creating such a great narrative arc.

What do you admire about the author after reading this book?

What decisions made by the author did you think were effective? Why?

Finally, a minor character in this story sparked a story idea that I want to research and write about. Mr. Otto Lillienthal, who Wilbur Wright credited as the most important contributor to the discovery of flight prior to himself and his brother, is a historical figure that I am studying about on my own. David McCullough made him sound so interesting, and so important, I was inspired to know more. And that to me is the best mark of a book, that it inspires in the reader a further project of study or experience.

What are you inspired to do after reading either of the selections this month?

Thanks for reading with me!

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