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The Island of Dr. Libris

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What if your favorite characters came to life? Billy’s spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there’s Dr. Libris’s private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life! But that’s impossible . . . isn’t it?

242 pages, Hardcover

First published March 1, 2015

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About the author

Chris Grabenstein

51 books2,246 followers
CHRIS GRABENSTEIN is a #1 New York Times bestselling author. His books include the LEMONCELLO, WONDERLAND, HAUNTED MYSTERY, DOG SQUAD, and SMARTEST KID IN THE UNIVERSE series, and many fun and funny page-turners co-authored with James Patterson. You can visit Chris at ChrisGrabenstein.com.

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5 stars
2,044 (29%)
4 stars
2,176 (31%)
3 stars
2,021 (29%)
2 stars
512 (7%)
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110 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 849 reviews
Profile Image for Darth J .
417 reviews1,247 followers
April 7, 2015
I was excited to read this. I wanted to like it, but I just didn’t Joseph Gordon-Loveit.

We have the premise of a boy named Billy who goes with his mom to a cabin owned by Dr. Libris and finds out that his visit is an experiment in imagination. Essentially, Billy discovers a locked bookcase with leather-bound tomes (don’t get your hopes up here, Dear Reader) and while he reads from these books the characters appear on the island that is somehow 20 minutes away by rowboat but he can hear them clearly after a while.

Along with Hercules, the Three Musketeers (plus d'Artagnan, who has to be mentioned every single time!), Sarah, Plain and Tall Pollyanna, and Robin Hood all appear for some reason.

It’s a literary jumble and a take on an all too familiar theme of a book coming to life. Except, that it isn’t just the characters from the special bookcase but really any book (even graphic novel) read close enough to the island. I felt let down by that because you have this locked bookcase that was supposedly so special and rare and then the magic of it is ruined when just any written thing can be brought to life on this island.

Further, Dr. Libris only appears for about 2 pages to say that his experiment went well and then hops on a helicopter in a very disappointing climax.

There’s a subplot about Billy’s parents splitting up but he somehow makes them love each other again with H.G. Wells’s Time Machine. Seriously, the book devolves into a mess with convoluted logic and poorly constructed rules that get thrown out the window when it is decided that Billy gets to write his own endings instead of reading them because he haz teh powah.

On the good side, the book starts off with early summer feels. On the bad side, literally the rest of it.
Profile Image for Neda.
134 reviews37 followers
August 11, 2021
پشت جلد کتاب زده +10 ساله ها. وقتی کتاب رو میخوندم در عین اینکه ماجرا رو دنبال میکردم همش این +10 ساله پشت ذهنم بود. از طرفی به جای نوجوون ها از تخیلات بیلی و جزیره جادویی ذوق می کردم، از طرفی هم دائم توی ذه��م سوال بود که آیا اون نوجوون ربط داستان به اون کتاب هایی که این قصه ازش الهام گرفته رو میفهمه یا نه. کتاب شخصیت های یک عالمه کتاب دیگه مثل تام سایر، رابین هود و ندیمه ماریان، سه تفنگدار، پولیانا و خیلی های دیگه رو در خودش جا داده و طبعا اگه بچه ای که این کتاب رو میخونه با این شخصیت ها از قبل آشنا باشه، نحوه رفتار و حرف زدنشون رو بیشتر درک میکنه و لذت بیشتری از داستان میبره اما اگه نخونده باشه و این شخصیت ها رو نشناسه قطعا یه بخشی از ماجراها رو اونجور که باید درک نمیکنه.
خب حالا که چالش ذهنم رو مطرح کردم کمی از کتاب بگم.
خودم خیلی از دنیای فانتزی و تخیلات لذتی نمیبرم برای همینم این کتاب لذت محض برام نبود. اما چیزی که در موازات دنیای تخیلی بیلی و والتر برام جالب بود، نمایش واقعیت زندگی این آدم ها بود. بیلی که تنها فرزند خونواده است و در عین حال با چالش بزرگ تری هم که جدا شدن پدر و مادرش باشه روبه رو شده. زندگی بیلی دنیای امروزی بچه های خودمون رو در ایران برام تداعی می کرد. پدر و مادرهایی همیشه گرفتار که خیلی وقتی برای گذروندن با بچه هاشون ندارن و در عین حال تنهایی بچه ها و اختلافاتی که مخصوصا در این سال های اخیر بین والدین زیاد شده رو مقابل چشمشون تجربه میکنن. بچه هایی که مثل بیلی گوشی به دست شدن تا تنهایی هاشون رو با گوشی پر کنن. نمیتونم بگم این دنیای مدرن برای بچه ها خوبه یا بد ولی میدونم که بعدها وقتی این بچه ها بزرگتر شدن، خیلی از این دوران یاد خواهند کرد. امیدوارم حداقل چیزی که از این دوران براشون میمونه نکات خوب و خاطره های شیرین باشه.
Profile Image for Rif.
278 reviews33 followers
January 4, 2016
"Simply open our books and read, and we shall once more be at your side." - Maid Marian (p.233)

I have mixed feelings about this book. I understand why some people dislike this and why some others like this. More review may come soon, but now now, it's a happy new year btw :)

It's actually 3,5 stars but I'm not in the mood to be a kind reviewer and mark it as 4 instead of 3. I marked it as a 3-star-book. But let's not underestimate this book!

This is definitely fun, fast-paced, and humorous (if that's not a word, please tell me). Have you read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke? A lot of fictional characters are coming alive in that book, and the same thing happens in this novel. The different is that I don't know fictional characters in Inkheart (but I love them!) but I do know all fictional characters in this novel.

The story revolves around Billy, a kid whose parents have problems (nearly divorce?). He's forced to spend his summer in a cabin near The Island of Dr. Libris with his mother. He always thinks that it'll be more fun to spend his summer with his dad, but unfortunately, his parents have different opinion.

FYI, Billy (same as Kyle in Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library) loves games. He doesn't like reading books I suppose, based on this dialog between him and his mom in p.21: "What do you think kids did back before video games, or TV, or even electricity? | I don't know. Cried a lot?". He loves electronic gadgets like iphones, video games, etc. Spending summer in The Island of Dr. Libris isn't a problem, if only his iphone isn't broken. Shortly, he's forced to explore the island while his father out of town (his parents are nearly divorced, remember?) and his mother drown in her thesis (yes, his mom is a very smart woman).

So, what could go wrong? Okay, I do like the list of books re-read by Chris Grabenstein during the time when he wrote this novel. Those are great books, I like a lot of them and I plan to read books I haven't read. A lot of fictional characters from those books are alive in The Island of Dr. Libris and this is why everything goes weird: Taking a lot of popular fictional characters to gather in this book is like choosing a lot of you favorite foods and mix it. Will you still like that food? I like Sate Padang, Gyoza, Takoyaki, Pempek, and Kue Putri Salju but I prefer all of those served separately (not mixed).. unless the chef can mix it well (and I don't think those fictional characters mixed well here)

And, to be honest: the plot isn't that amazing. Still, it's a fun read. There are a bunch of cute sentences can be quoted by booklovers (like me). I should be able to give this a 4 stars if I didn't have a high hope for this. I'm a bit disappointed and give it as 3,5 stars because I do love Chris Grabenstein's works and I was expecting more enjoyable adventures from this novel.

Anyway, I still recommend this book if you want a light read and just have fun with popular fictional charactes such as Robin Hood, Hercules, Maid Marian, Jack (and the Beanstalk), Pollyanna, etc ^^

P.S. I love the epilog! I'd like to thank Mr. Chris Grabenstein's 7th grade English teacher who encouraged him by writing "You will make your living as a writer someday." in his composition book :") I also love how he ended the epilog: As Samuel Johnson so famously said, "A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it."
Profile Image for Kim McGee.
2,865 reviews50 followers
March 23, 2015
Just plain good old fashioned fun - a summer away from gadgets just sounds really boring for Billy who is held captive in a cabin while his mother works on her dissertation and dad has stayed in the city. The good news is that he is really a lab rat for Dr. Libris who is looking for an imaginative kid to find the key and make his way over to the island for an adventure. What Billy doesn't know is that he, along with his neighbor Walter is in for the adventure of a lifetime. Books come to life on the island and that can mean a heap of trouble for the kids if he doesn't figure out how to control things. A cast of book characters from children's books of the past will have you scrambling to remember how the book plays out while laughing at the way the characters are all interacting with one another. Is Dr. Libris on the up and up or will he turn in to a mad scientist figure? This is one book that would be great for a family read aloud even with the issue of Billy's parents having marital issues.
Profile Image for Allie.
498 reviews26 followers
July 18, 2017
I feel I should start this review by saying that my 10 year old son loved this book. Not even halfway through listening to it he told me he would give it 5 stars. Then when it did finish, he said 5 out of 5 stars, unless he could do more. ;-) My 16 year old son even gave it 4 stars --- and his 4 stars are like my 5 stars. So as far as kids go, I'd say this book is a hit.

I, on the other hand, would give it a miss. It wasn't bad, but it didn't grab me at all. And middle grade reads are some of my favourites. When I think about it, I think I'd have to say it's too naive for my liking.
Profile Image for Karsyn .
2,327 reviews36 followers
July 1, 2015
Such a great and cute cute book!! ADORED it. If you are a book lover, and ever dreamed about the characters in your favorite books coming to life, this book was written for you. You must go read it, right now, it's fantastic! So adorable, so cute, so fun. For book lovers, just like Grabenstein's other book ~ Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. Read this one and that one, you won't be sorry!
400 reviews84 followers
March 12, 2017
انتظار نداشتم کتاب خوبی باشه؛ فکر میکردم اینم یه داستان تکراری دیگه مثل همه ی داستان های تکراری دیگه ایه که تا حالا خوندم؛ که تو این دوره و زمونه ای که اکثر داستان ها گفته شدن، دلیلی نداره که یه رمان کودک و نوجوان حاشیه ای بتونه حرف تازه ای بزنه.
ولی خب اشتباه میکردم. کتاب خوبی بود. محتوای تازه ای داشت. و به شکل تازه ای ارائه ش داده بود. شش ستاره به تو میدهم
ترجمه ش هم عالی بود. لحن رو در آورده بود و طنز متن اصلی بعد ترجمه شهید نشده بود، بلکه تکرار شده بود تو فارسی، و زبان عامیانه و کودک-نوجوانانه در اومده بود. شش ستاره هم به تو میدهم ترجمه.
Profile Image for Kristen.
1,762 reviews29 followers
May 16, 2016
So good--not Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library good, but still a fun read. Adventure, fantasy, humor--all the things that make a good, clean children's book. Hercules is hilarious--particularly when trying to fit in with Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Some of the non-literary characters are a little one-dimensional and predictable, but I enjoyed the fantastical literary scenes so much it didn't bother me as much as it might have.
Profile Image for Mompop.
339 reviews5 followers
March 27, 2015
Share this with fans of Cornelia Funke's trilogy Inkheart
Profile Image for Mikey Golczynski.
357 reviews4 followers
June 22, 2015
I was so excited for this book, too. I haven't read any of the I, funny series, but I was blown away by Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. My libary coop used it for our county wide battle of the books and the kids were eating it up. I even hosted an escape event at my library using the resources from the book. So, you can see how excited I was when I heard this was coming out. It seemed like a worthy successor to Lemoncello. The premise being that Dr. Libris has an island with (never explained) technology that can capture, transfer, and materiealize theta brainwaves to allow anyone's imagination to come to life. Wow, sounds pretty cool! Enter Billy, our protagonist. Billy is heading to the lake to rent Dr. Libris' cabin. Unbeknownst to Billy and his mom, the Dr. had been testing Billy earlier when Billy's mom asked him to borrow the cottage for the summer by subjecting him to open ended Rorschach tests. It became apparent to Dr. Libris that Billy had an imagination like nobody else and what Dr. Libris calls a "magical" mind. Billy gets on the island and figures out how to get inside the special bookcase at Dr. Libris's cottage. Billy begins to read and hears strange sounds on the island. As the book progresses Billy discovers that when he reads, his Theta brain waves actually make the characters from the book come to life. It gets out of hand and dangerous, and Billy plus his friend Walter have to figure out how to put things back to normal again.

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, that's where the complimentary portion of this review ends.
The subplot about Billy's parents is almost forgotten about for nearly two-thirds of the book. In the end, Billy's solution is to send them back in time using H.G. Wells' time machine 15 years to they can remember what it was like when they fell in love. First of all, time travel fiction is dicey. I don't really like it because no one does it right, there are too many loose ends. So, I can get beyond the ludicrous nature of this solution because, after all, this is a work of fiction where book characters come to life by imagining them. But the real rotten banana in this bunch is that it works. Billy's parents seem to resolve their differences because they went back in time, which Billy erases from their memory when they return, so there is no logical path from point A to point B. The message that comes across is "Don't worry kids, you can just wish your parents back together and it will work! Use your imagination, and everything will be alright!" Time travel inaccuracies and silly logic aside, the entire ending just really fell flat. The last chapters really give the impression that Grabenstein wrote himself into a corner and had to struggle to get himself out. I think it's a case of taking a great idea about two steps too far.

Another gripe I have with this book is he use of the classic literary characters. While I can appreciate his effort to bring these characters to the attention of the elementary aged reader, it ends up reading like one of those elementary kids wrote the story. I used to teach and I saw mash-up stories like this all the time with the Transformers Vs. Capn. Jack Sparrow, Dracula Vs. Spongebob, and the list goes on.

Finally, the big questions. Were the characters real? It was written as if they posed a threat to Billy's safety, so if that's the case, then the reader must assume that they were real. In fact, in a scene later on, Tom Sawyer is asking Billy to imagine him up some fish to eat. Based on that criteria, you would have to say that they are indeed alive, and very real. Why then is Billy allowed to imagine them away? Dr. Libris also seems to think that his imagination harvesting equipment is going to make him rich and provide people with everything the could ever need. Yeah, until someone imagines it away. Would you invest in something that is only corporeal until it gets wished away like a hospital or vehicle? Heck no. So this leads me to a bigger question. If they are real, and Billy can't wish them away, how long before they leave that island? How will they eat? What do we do with these new, strange people who have no idea how to exist in the real world? It seems a bit inhumane to me. Also, most of the characters are willing to be imagined back into their stories, but the Sheriff of Nottingham doesn't! What happens to him? Does he run amok on the island? What if the characters are unwilling to be wished back into their stories? Why does Billy get to play god? Is wishing them away akin to murder? What happens to them when they disappear? Do they remember what happened? If not, were they really ever real to begin with? I don't know the answer and I don't think that Grabenstein did either.

In the end, Walter asks Billy if they can go to the lake's restaurant and imagine him some free waffle fries. Billy agrees and I have to ask. Where does Billy's power stop? On the Island? Only around the Theta wave transmitters? Where? Also, if Billy has this "magic" mind, how has this never happened before? It's never mentioned as happening before. Billy never once mentions anything weird happening regarding his thoughts coming to life. Also, I have to ask...isn't wishing into existence free waffle fries, I don't know...ILLEGAL? What if Billy decides to get greedy and never works for anything again!? He already got his parents back together by imagining them back in love again, so why not continue to abuse that power? What's stopping him?

Finally, the moral of the story. I read it as: Your imagination is a weapon. (That's kind of cool, admittedly.) You can use it to fix all you problems. Don't worry kids! Your imagination is so powerful that you won't have to worry about anything again! Imagine your problems being solved, or better yet. Imagine up some fictional characters to do it for you!

I really can't recommend this book and it's too bad. I loved Mr. Lemoncello's library. This was just bad.
13 reviews
August 22, 2018
O carte care m-a făcut să o citesc mai cu poftă după fiecare pagină!📖
Personajele principale sunt foarte curajoase și inteligente! Nu ai cum să nu le îndrăgești!📚
Profile Image for Cristi-Lael.
981 reviews18 followers
June 6, 2017
A cute middle grade story that my daughters loved. And I love that Grabenstein is writing books that encourage kids to pick up and read older children's books. What a great idea.
Profile Image for Rachael.
539 reviews56 followers
June 11, 2015
Billy is spending the summer at a cabin owned by the mysterious Dr. Xiang Libris. (X Libris. Yeah. It's that kind of book.) There's no tv, no internet, and, conveniently, no smartphone: Billy's iPhone breaks as soon as they arrive at the cabin. Oh, but do you know what there is instead? A mysterious library! Because of course there is. And do you know what happens when Billy reads the books? The characters come to life! Because of course they do.

Before long, Billy has populated the island in the middle of the lake with Hercules, Robin Hood and Friends, and even Pollyanna (because we're expected to believe that a twelve year old boy would willingly pick up and read Pollyanna). In addition to trying to deal with the mayhem caused by the fictional characters, Billy has to figure out some way to stop his parents' divorce. Because of course he does.

Are you getting that I'm not terribly impressed by this book? (Full disclosure: I listened to this one as an audiobook as well, and it was narrated by Kirby Heyborne, who is narratorial anathema to me.) I had actually been looking forward to it, since it's by the same author as Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library, which many people enjoyed.

Anyway, I'm probably judging The Island of Dr. Libris a bit harshly because I am emphatically not the right reader for this book. The publisher's blurb mentions that it "celebrates the power of imagination." I am tired of books that claim to celebrate "the power of imagination" or "the power of story," because they usually fail to do so. Story and imagination celebrate themselves when deployed effectively.

I am also tired of books that celebrate books, and reading itself, in heavy-handed ways. If you're trying to push this kind of message within the pages a 242 page novel for 9-12 year olds, you're preaching to the choir. Non-readers are not reading this.

Finally, I'm super triple tired of books that pit Real Books against Evil Electronic Devices. You guys, that kind of thinking feels so crotchety. I've been spending a lot of time on Tumblr lately, and it's full of tweens and teens who see no boundary between books and screens, and who spend their time not only discussing, but also creating fan art based on their favorite fictional worlds. If you take away their iPhones, where are they going to write about all of their Harry Potter headcanons?

Anyway... aside from the fact that it offends me on a fundamental level, is the book any good? I guess it's a fairly competent adventure story, and many readers will enjoy the way the fictional worlds collide (Hercules joining Robin Hood's band of Merry People, etc.). I will note that the characters are not terribly well-developed, especially Billy's mother, who manages to be the stereotypical unfun mom despite the fact that she's getting a PhD in math.

It would probably make a fun vacation read, and if you hand it to to the literary-minded kids you know, I won't even judge you. Much.
Profile Image for Bluerose's  Heart.
532 reviews28 followers
January 18, 2015
This book has a zany kookiness about it, which I like to refer to as "wonderfully weird", that reminds me a bit of Roald Dahl. There are lots of goofy lines and situations that made me snicker, and even laugh out loud. This book is a salute to the many worlds that can be visited and created through imagination. There's also a strong pull to read great classic books out there, especially one of the many mentioned within this story. With that combination, how can one go wrong with this book?!

On top of all that, there's a bit of mystery added in, as far as who Dr. Libris is and what exactly he's trying to accomplish, even if I was hoping for more concerning him. There's new friendships made, and favorite characters from classics reinvented. Even better, there's a bit of diversity added in. (Walter and his sister are African American. This is only mentioned briefly through descriptions, but I appreciated the diversity, either way.)

There's a side story that I know some parents won't care for. I appreciated the way it was done, though. Billy's parents are separated. He's determined to get them back together. The ending of this particular part is left open, so each reader can decide how happy to make their future, or make it to match their own family situation. Really, each reader can decide how much of the story, as a whole, is "real".

I had fun reading this book, and I won't hesitate to hand it over to my children down the road. I highly recommended it, as long as you don't mind a bit of silly corniness.

*I was provided an ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Beverly.
5,108 reviews4 followers
September 18, 2018
This was a humorous story of a boy whose imagination, quite unbeknownst to him, is being studied by Dr. Xiang Libris, or X. Libris (get it?) Anyway, whatever Billy reads from a book comes to life on the island in the middle of the lake behind the house he and his mother are renting. After Billy has gone to the island and discovered that the characters he has read about have come to life (Hercules, Robin, Maid Marion), he gets the next door neighbor, Walter involved as well. Suffice it to say, they have many adventures on the island, before they find out what is actually going on. There are many references to classic and modern books, both adult and juvenile, but Grabenstein is careful to make sure that only characters in the public domain have come to life on the island.
1,765 reviews16 followers
December 29, 2014
I read an ARC of this book, which is a great suggestion for summer reading for upper elementary students. This is another original adventure from the author of Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library, and it tells the tale of a boy who discovers an island where the characters from books he reads actually come to life. There are lots of twists and turns as the story unfolds, and I love that all the books mentioned during the story are listed by the author at the end.
141 reviews1 follower
April 5, 2015
"Really like this for older elementary students"

Love how the book includes classic literature that kids might have heard of but never thought to read.., and will want to after listening to this story. We see friendship, parents having trouble, bullies and much more. Think this would appeal to boys since main characters are boys, but girls will like also. Love how one's imagination can get one into situations that require quick thinking. Highly recommend audio.
Profile Image for Tracy.
1,849 reviews30 followers
August 10, 2015
Quick, grabby little story. I like that his characters coming to life are classic rather than harry Potter. I especially like the bully falling for Pollyana :). I'm glad he listed the books he referenced at the end for encouragement in further reading.
Profile Image for Megan.
2,082 reviews11 followers
November 18, 2017
This is a cute, imaginative book for middle-schoolers. My daughter thought it was really fun. As an adult, I found the characters underdeveloped and the plot rushed. However, for the recommended age group, it would be good enough. The story is more about the action, anyway.
Profile Image for Jessie.
1,199 reviews63 followers
August 23, 2019
Listened to this with the kids as an audio book. Great narrator. The whole story just jumped to life quite forcefully! I love how Chris Grabenstein writes books that make you want to go look up other books next.
Profile Image for Dramapuppy.
387 reviews44 followers
September 23, 2020
I read this because it looked like a Lemoncello book, but that was a mistake.

If you liked Lemoncello for the way it let you revel in your love of books, don't read this. The protagonist can imagine book characters to life, but then they are alive and he puts the book down to go on fantasy adventures with them. I get the metaphor of this, but I didn't need to be convinced that reading is magical. I wanted to read about books. But every book in this story gets thrown aside after Billy reads exactly one paragraph.

If you liked Lemoncello for the exciting competition, don't read this. There's no game, but I hoped there might at least be some kind of scavenger hunt or puzzle where Billy had to find the right book to uncover the mystery of the island. Nope. He just runs around with the random assortment of characters he imagines, and they get into low level fantasy danger and mischief.

My biggest problem was that the plot felt completely ridiculous. It's a lot of ~Lol so RaNdOm XD~ humor and adventure that adults seem to think kids like. I almost gave this a bonus star because it seemed unfair for an adult to two-star a kids book for being too ridiculous, but then I figured it was more unfair to assume kids wouldn't notice how nonsensical this story is. A child might not dislike this as much quite as much as I did, but they still deserve a better book.
Profile Image for Trix Wilkins.
Author 3 books43 followers
December 4, 2017
I read Escape from Mr Lemoncello's Library (and the sequel) first which I absolutely loved. I really liked the hero in this novel, but wasn't anywhere near as engaged or as connected to the characters and the story as I was with the Lemoncello Library series.
Profile Image for Diane.
6,671 reviews
July 13, 2020
"Each of us can choose who or what we shall be. We write our own stories, Sir William. We write them each and every day."

Billy Gillfoyle's summer is going to be spent lakeside, with his mom working on her thesis and his dad in California. Little does he know that he has been chosen by the enigmatic Dr. Xiang Libris to test what he calls The Theta Project which, in essence, allows someone to unleash book characters onto his island by reading their story. Or does it? How does it actually work? Because Billy has such a vivid imagination, Dr. Libris is sure that he is the perfect candidate to interact with these characters. Sure enough, Billy pulls a copy of The Labors of Hercules off the shelf and begins to read. "And then, from somewhere outside, far off in the distance, Billy heard Antaeus again. Beware, Hercules! For I shall surely crush you!"

At first Billy thinks he's losing it, but it seems like a puzzle he needs to solve. So he picks up Robin Hood to see what happens. And just as before, suddenly he's hearing Robin Hood and Maid Marian in the distance. It seems to be coming from the island in the middle of the lake. So, Billy can't resist heading over to the island to see what he can see. And what he sees is Hercules and Robin Hood interacting, as Hercules helps the merry men get away from The Sheriff of Nottingham. "... had Billy just rewritten literary history and turned Hercules into one of Robin Hood's merry outlaws?"

As Billy continues to read, he continues to release characters onto the island and chaos ensues. The Three Musketeers join forces with Notthingham for a start. The question becomes just how dangerous is this? Could it change the stories that the characters came from? Could they actually kill each other? Or Billy?

Billy runs into Walter coming back from his first trip to the island. Walter is the son of one of Dr. Libris' engineers. Billy decides to recruit Walter to help him sort things out on the island. And Walter brings his own talent to the island by releasing a wizard from a video game. How are they ever going to restore order? Should they just go home and forget it ever happened? "Quit now? And pass up a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go on adventures with the greatest characters of all time?"

Though it's been done before, this is a much more readable version of the idea. After reading the book, students have been discussing what characters they would like to release onto the island. They've also been discussing how characters from different books might interact. Fun stuff. I love the bibliography the author provides at the end of the book for students to see how many literary references they found in the text and to explore some of the books they may not know. Here's hoping there is a sequel.
Profile Image for Jackie.
4,067 reviews46 followers
April 10, 2015
Billy Gillfoyle is reluctantly spending his summer on Lake Katrine in a quirky cabin owned by his mom's colleague, Dr. Libris. Billy has an uneasy feeling that his parents are drifting apart and will be in the midst of a divorce soon. His dad high-tails it back to New York soon after dropping the two of them at the cabin.

He is confused and bewildered by the cabin...no TV, weird art, a multitude of security cameras, and an elaborate and immense collection of books that belong to Libris. What will he do all summer? His mother encourages him to read...after all, kids long ago only had reading to conjure up their imagination. And, that's exactly what happens! As Billy reads, he hears strange sounds coming from the island off the lake. Curious, he rows out to the island to find the characters he's been reading about have come to life! He asks next door neighbor and friend, Walter to help him explore and the two find a mixture of characters that only the imagination can create...Tom Sawyer, Hercules, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, The Three Muskateers, and Pollyanna. Whew! Quite a bunch. But, what does all this have to do with Billy, Dr. Libris, his parents, and his active imagination?

The Island of Dr. Libris takes us on an adventure that tugs at heart-strings, entices us to use our imagination, and leave us wanting to be kids again. Wishing for only one thing...and one thing only, Billy longs to see his parents reconcile. Can he find a way to use his imaginative characters to accomplish this wish? Only for those of us who believe in the power of reading and books will have the answer to that question.

Not quite as fast-paced and adventurous as Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library, this book nonetheless is full of the kind of dialogue and characters we can all connect with and one that has a story line that is intriguing enough to make it un-put-down-able. A great read-aloud, too!
Profile Image for Barbara.
13k reviews267 followers
June 3, 2015
Since his parents need to spend some time away from each other, Billy Gillfoyle and his mother rent a lake cottage from her employer, Dr. Libris, a man with questionable values and an inclination to ignore the basic tenets of scientific research. As it turns out, the place is filled with security cameras and not much to do other than read. The man's bookshelves contain beautiful carvings and several classics. As Billy reluctantly opens a book, its characters start speaking to hi, and he meets, by turns, Hercules, Robin Hood, Tom Sawyer, and Jack of "Jack and the Beanstalk" fame, among many others. When he and his new friend Walter row out to the island in the middle of the lake, that's where they find all these book characters come to life. How Dr. Libris manages to pull all this off, and why Billy's mother is so oblivious to it all isn't entirely clear, but I did like Billy quite a lot. The intermittent lab notes by Dr. Libris make it clear how his unauthorized experiment is proceeding. Middle grade readers will appreciate his growth during this summer, how his adventures with the book characters help him deal with bullies in his real life, and how he works so hard to provide a memory that just might help his parents fall in love again. Who knows why we fall in and out of love, of course, but as Billy comes to realize, sometimes it helps to be reminded of who we once were. Although everything doesn't hold together entirely in the story and that island becomes quite overrun with literary types, there were parts that literally had me chortling, for instance, when he's referred to as "Sir William of Goat" by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Perfect for a read aloud and strongly encouraging reading for the pure unadulterated pleasure of getting lost in a book, this one even includes a list of the books mentioned in this story, all favorites of the author.
Profile Image for Amanda.
3,615 reviews30 followers
June 22, 2015
2 1/2 stars. I LOVED Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, loved it so much that I recommended that book to EVERYONE. Can you imagine my excitement & high hopes for this book? Yep, this SHOULD HAVE been excellent (cool cover, author's last work was awesome, excellent premise...especially for book nerds), and yet.

I was BORED much of the time while reading this. I kept picking it up & putting it down with relief, and then forcing myself to have to stick with it (a significant gap in time happened between the last time I read it and today when I finally FORCED myself to JUST FINISH IT). This was a book that made me want to skim whole chunks of it, and I had to actually work at making myself read the pages instead of going *meh* and moving happily ahead.

These characters, who can really relate to them? (And who names their kids "Walter" and "Billy" these days anyway?) I didn't care about their problems (bully issues? *meh* family dynamic all out of whack & parents not getting along *double meh* kid hooked on technology & not into reading? *yawn*). The most realistic, and I use that word loosely, characters were those that the author borrowed from other people's stories; those were the characters who made me laugh and whom I cared an iota about. The "real" main characters could go jump into the lake for all I cared. And as for the villain? His involvement is so minimal that I couldn't even work up a jot of worry for anything.

The ending is so scrambled together (major pet peeve: deus ex machina combined w/ a character who never really makes a reader worry because they ALWAYS figure things out pdq) that I can't even.

Just done. Thankfully like this book is now.
Profile Image for Quan.
24 reviews16 followers
January 8, 2016
I was disappointed! There is so much potential with the idea of literature coming to life via one's imagination especially in childhood when everything is possible. I really enjoyed Billy and Walter and the bookcase in Dr Libris' library. Walter provided comic relief. I did not enjoy the hodge podge of characters thrown together on the island. Pollyanna served no purpose except to babysit Alyssa. She was a distraction. The comic book characters did not contribute in a positive way either when placed with classic characters.
The climax of the book with Dr Libras appearing and explaining his plan is anything but that. He explains his plan then flies off in a helicopter! We know nothing much about his character nor about his interaction with other kids. Why did Walter's dad help him? Did he know anything about the research on the island? How did he discover the bookcase? Was it there when he purchased the house? Instead we get a one dimensional view of this supposed mad money hungry scientist.
Billy's parents have a potentially interesting story line and we get the opportunity to experience that adult conflict through Billy. Because it's a children's novel there did not need to be more details involving their marital problems, but having everything resolved because of Billy's magical thinking is an easy way out.
I bought this book for my nephew. I want him to once again be interested in reading. I would love for him to read it and want to read the classics mentioned in the book. I fear that my goal will not be achieved. I hope that this will not further turn him off from reading.
Profile Image for Carol Royce Owen.
970 reviews14 followers
June 14, 2015
In order to like this story you have to read it with a child's imagination. When children tell a story they embellish it more and more spinning one story into another into another, and that is just the way this story develops. First you have Billy. Billy has arrived to spend the summer with his mom at a cabin by a lake owned by a Dr. Libris, a professor at his mom's college. Billy is worried because he has noticed his parents spending more and more time apart, and when they are together they argue a lot - about money. At the cabin, Billy quickly finds there is no electronic entertainment. No TV or video games, and his cell phone gets broken rather quickly. That is when he discovers the books in Mr. Libris' library and the magic around them and the island out in the middle of the lake. As he reads story after story, the book becomes wilder and wilder, just like a child's imagination, with each story spinning to another before everything is a bit crazy, and only Billy can unscramble it all.
This story has sparks of Inkheart from Cornelius Funke, and is as creative as the author's first book Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library, but in all honestly, I liked Mr. Lemoncello's Library a bit better. But still, this will definitely be a hit for those who enjoy fantasy mixed with a little bit of sci-fi
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