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Authors: Chris Grabenstein

The Island of Dr. Libris

BOOK: The Island of Dr. Libris
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OTHER BOOKS BY CHRIS GRABENSTEIN

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
A
New York Times
bestseller

T
HE
H
AUNTED
M
YSTERY
S
ERIES

The Crossroads

Winner of the Agatha Award and the Anthony Award

The Hanging Hill

Winner of the Agatha Award

The Smoky Corridor

The Black Heart Crypt

Winner of the Agatha Award

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2015 by Chris Grabenstein

Jacket art copyright © 2015 by Gilbert Ford

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

Random House and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

Visit us on the Web!
randomhousekids.com

Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools, visit us at
RHTeachersLibrarians.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Grabenstein, Chris.

The island of Dr. Libris / Chris Grabenstein. — First edition.

pages cm.

Summary: A twelve-year-old boy, worried that his parents may divorce, discovers that an island in the middle of the lake where he is spending the summer is the testing grounds of the mysterious Dr. Libris, who may have invented a way to make the characters in books come alive.

ISBN 978-0-385-38844-3 (trade) — ISBN 978-0-385-38846-7 (lib. bdg.) —

ISBN 978-0-385-38847-4 (ebook) — ISBN 978-0-553-53843-4 (intl. tr. pbk.)

[1. Inventions—Fiction. 2. Characters in literature—Fiction.

3. Books and reading—Fiction. 4. Divorce—Fiction.] I. Title.

II. Title: The island of Doctor Libris.

PZ7.G7487Is 2015    [Fic]—dc23    2014000214

Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.

v3.1

For Uncle Julian and Aunt Patsy
,

who lived such storied lives.

And for you, the reader.

Thank you for volunteering to

attempt this feat of magic with me.

Contents
THE THETA PROJECT

Lab Note #316

Prepared by

Dr. Xiang Libris, PsyD, DLit

I am thrilled to report that after an exhaustive search, I have found the ideal subject for our first field test, which will commence as soon as Billy G., a twelve-year-old male with a very vivid imagination, arrives on-site.

His mother will be busy. His father will be away. He will be bored.

In short, Billy G. will be perfect.

Billy Gillfoyle’s dad shifted gears and gunned the engine.

“Hang on, kiddo!” he shouted over the roar. “Sign says ‘Curves Ahead.’ ”

The convertible rocketed up the winding country road like it was the Space Lizard’s Galaxy Blaster from Billy’s favorite comic books.

“Woo-hoo!” cried Billy.

The top was down. Wind whipped through Billy’s hair. Gravel spewed out from under the tires. Bugs splattered on the windshield.

It was awesome.

His dad was awesome. No, his dad was
fun
!

His mother?

Well, she had to be more serious, because she was a math professor, not a writer of cool TV commercials like his dad. But together they were kind of perfect.

At least Billy thought so. His parents? Not so much.

That was why Billy would be spending the summer with his mom but not his dad.

In a cabin.

On a lake.

In the middle of nowhere.

His mom was already there. His dad would haul Billy up to the cabin, then whip back around to spend the summer at their apartment in New York City.

Billy wished they could all be together, but there was nothing he could do to change his parents’ minds. After all, he was just a kid.

He sank a little lower in his seat as his dad piloted the screaming convertible through the road’s breakneck curves. Yup. Even the car had more power than Billy.

“Have you been getting enough sleep, hon?” his mother asked while Billy’s dad emptied the car.

Billy stood in what he figured was the lake cottage’s front yard—a scraggly patch of weeds and dirt.

People always thought Billy needed a nap, because he had heavy-lidded eyes and a long, droopy face.

“I’m fine, Mom.”

“Okay,” his mother said with a smile that looked like it hurt. “Well, welcome to Lake Katrine. I think you’ll like it up here. We have a dock out back and a rowboat.”

Billy nodded. He wasn’t all that big on water sports.

“You can go exploring out on the island,” she added.

“Great.” Billy played along. He didn’t want to make his mom feel sadder than he could tell she already did.

“Oh, I nearly forgot. I saw some other kids in the cottages on either side of ours. Two of the boys look like they’re your age. Maybe you guys will become friends this summer.”

Billy’s dad hauled over Billy’s suitcase. “That should do it.”

“Thank you, Bill,” his mother said politely.

“No problem, Kim.” His dad stared off at the sparkling water behind the cabin. “Good old Lake Katrine.”

“I’m surprised you remember it.”

“Definitely. But I don’t remember this cabin. Who’d you rent it from? Davy Crockett?”

He had a point. Billy’s home for the next ten weeks looked like it had been built out of jumbo-sized Lincoln Logs. The screened-in porch was filled with furniture made from bent tree branches. Also—and this was sort of weird—security cameras were mounted all over the place: under the eaves of the gable roof, up in the nook of a nearby tree, over in the far corner of the porch.

Their little red lights blinked at Billy.

“I rented it from Dr. Libris,” said Billy’s mother.

“Who’s he?” asked Billy.

“Dr. Xiang Libris. He also owns the island out in the middle of the lake.”

“Shihahng?”
said Billy.

“It’s Chinese and spelled with an ‘X.’ Dr. Libris is a professor at my college. Since he won’t be coming up here this summer, I was able to rent his cabin at a very reasonable price.”

She narrowed her eyes a little when she said that last bit.

Because Billy’s dad wasn’t very good at managing money. Billy had learned this (and wished he hadn’t) by listening to his parents argue late at night when they thought he was asleep.

Apparently, his dad spent too much money on “silly toys.”

And, according to Billy’s dad, his mom needed to “lighten up,” “relax,” and not “crunch so many numbers.”

Maybe I could win the lottery
, thought Billy.
Then all their money problems would disappear.

In his mind, Billy could see it: Him holding a jumbo-sized cardboard check for fifty million dollars. His parents hugging and kissing each other and agreeing with the governor that it was okay, just this once, for a twelve-year-old kid to be the Mega Lotto Jackpot winner.

“Well,” said Billy’s dad, “I’d better go. We have a client meeting first thing tomorrow.” He hopped into the convertible. “See you in a couple weeks, kiddo!”

And with one last wave, Billy’s father sped down the road, his tires spitting gravel the whole way.

“Did you stop for lunch?” Billy’s mom asked as he lugged his suitcase up the steps to the porch.

“Yeah.”

“No wonder you guys were late. Did your father take you to the Red Barn?”

“No. Burger Maxx.”

His mom wrinkled her nose.

“Hey,” said Billy, “if he writes the commercials, he has to eat the food. It’s the law.”

She smiled.

“So, what’s the Red Barn?” Billy asked.

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