Booklist: Experience an Escape Room, Kidlit Style

August 7th, 2017 by

The other day, my friend told me that he and his family did three escape rooms in one week. Seriously, dude loves puzzles.

Not familiar with escape rooms? They’re theme rooms where you solve a series of puzzles in order to figure out how to exit the room — usually within an hour time limit. You participate in teams, so it’s a fun activity for a family or a group of friends.

I got to thinking… If I had my own escape room company, I’d make all the rooms based on different children’s books where the storyline revolves around characters solving puzzles and putting together clues. In my opinion, reading these brain-teasing books and playing along is like experiencing an escape room!

So check out these puzzle-centric books packed with even more riddles, codes, and drama than you’d find in a real-world escape room (official descriptions from the book publishers/authors):

puzzling-world-of-winston-breen-book-reviewThe Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Erin Berlin

Winston Breen says the only thing better than discovering a puzzle is stumping someone else with it. But when his sister uncovers mysterious strips of wood with words and letters on them, even Winston himself is stumped. Soon the whole family (and some friends) are caught up in the mystery and off on a scavenger hunt that just may lead to a ring worth thousands of dollars! Chock-full of puzzles to solve, some tied to the mystery and some not, this treasure hunt will keep readers’ brains teased right up to the exciting ending!

the-gollywhopper-gamesThe Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman

Gil Goodson’s future happiness depends on winning Golly Toy and Game Company’s ultimate competition. If Gil wins, his dad has promised the family can move away from all the gossip, false friends, and bad press that have plagued them ever since The Incident.

Gil has been studying, training, and preparing for months, and once he makes it through the tricky preliminary rounds and meets his teammates, the competition gets tougher. Brainteasers, obstacle courses, mazes, and increasingly difficult puzzles and decisions — not to mention temptations, dilemmas, and new friends (and enemies) — are all that separate Gil from ultimate victory. Does Gil have what it takes to win? Do you?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Kyle Keeley is the class clown and a huge fan of all games — board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the construction of the new town library. Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot as one of 12 kids invited for an overnight sleepover in the library, hosted by Mr. Lemoncello and riddled with lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must solve every clue and figure out every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route!

Floors_Patrick-CarmanFloors by Patrick Carman

Charlie had his chocolate factory. Stanley Yelnats had his holes. Leo has the wacky, amazing Whippet Hotel. The Whippet Hotel is a strange place full of strange and mysterious people. Each floor has its own quirks and secrets. Ten-year-old Leo Fillmore should know most of them; he is the maintenance man’s son, after all. But a whole lot more mystery gets thrown his way when a series of cryptic boxes are left for him… boxes that lead him to hidden floors, strange puzzles, and unexpected alliances. Leo had better be quick on his feet, because the fate of the building he loves is at stake… and so is Leo’s own future!

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

A bizarre chain of events begins when 16 unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger — and a possible murderer — to inherit his vast fortune, one thing’s for sure: Sam Westing may be dead… but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

For 12-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.

Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game ― before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.

spiderweb-for-twoSpiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright

Randy and Oliver Melendy awake one fall morning full of gloom. Their brother and sister are away, the house seems forlorn and empty, and even Cuffy, their adored housekeeper, can’t pick up their spirits. Will they have to face a long and lonely winter? But a surprise message in the mailbox starts a trail of excitement and adventure that takes them through the cold season. When summer finally comes around again, the children have found 14 messages in all, and the end of the search brings them a rich reward.


I’m pretty sure the characters in these books would kick major butt in an escape room — and I’d love to solve puzzles and decipher clues alongside them, or at least pretend to be in their world for an hour if I could. So… who’s going to fund my new escape room business? 🙂

Leave a comment if you have an escape room idea or a book recommendation I didn’t include here!

— Karen

Karen’s actually never done an escape room — but she would if there were some based on these books!

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