My 10 year old son and I both loved Chris Grabenstein’s previous book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. This book was completely different yet with a similar feel — that sort of timeless, magical realism that I love in children’s fiction.
The Island of Dr. Libris isn’t exactly “real,” because there’s an island that features characters that come to life when Billy reads about them in books. He and his mom are staying in Dr. Libris’ cabin, and he leaves clues enticing Billy to explore his library. This results in a crazy island inhabited by the 3 muskateers (well, 4 actually), Hercules, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, Pollyanna, Tom Sawyer and more. It was really amusing.
I am not sure if this fun piece of fiction would encourage kids to pick up some of these books or not, but I do think that it would appeal to kids whether or not they are interested in reading. Billy and his neighbor get in some interesting scrapes on the crazy island, and they also deal with contemporary concerns such as bullying and divorce.
My son hasn’t read it yet, but I’m pretty sure he’ll like it as much as I did. I was laughing out loud at some of the dialogue of the characters on the island.