Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics
Chris Grabenstein
Random House, 2016  267 pgs.
Grades 3-7

Kyle and his friends from Mr. Lemoncello's Library must reunite in order to prove that they deserved the fame and fortune awarded to them in the previous book. This sophomore offering in the series has the eccentric and wealthy game-maker , Mr. Lemoncello, assembling teams from all over the country to compete in the Library Olympics. The eight teams gather in the small Ohio town of Mr. L's youth in his state-of-the-art library, complete with holographic ceilings and hover board ladders. Kyle's team is representing the hometown heroes and they are out to prove that they are worthy of their current title. Unfortunately, tightly wound Marjory Muldauer from an opposing team is aiming for the title and knows her stuff. One event follows the next as the young people participate in a series of contests from book trivia to pizza eating while reading. Further complications arise when former opponent, Charles Chiltington, his mother, and her snotty friends protest both the library and the contest. The whole competition seems to be over when books are discovered to be missing from the library and only one of the contestants could have removed them. Mr. Lemoncello becomes discouraged and cancels the last event. It is up to Kyle and all of the contestants to ban together, find the culprit, and reclaim the library and the right to read for all of the citizens of their town, even if it means putting the grand prize of a free college education on the line.

Chris Grabenstein has done it again! I thought that he couldn't top Mr. Lemoncello's Library for a great book with perfect library connections, lending itself to a fun-filled literary program. This book is even more suited to library fun, all while exposing kids to great books every step of the way. The mystery is solid with readers working to discover who took the library books and the ending brings surprises concerning a main character that I didn't see coming. The challenges and events are fun. Brain teasers and puzzles abound in the book, giving smart kids an extra layer to their reading. Kyle is not a perfect student or natural reader: he is a gamer. Kyle is also a team player and a likable friend. His skill set works perfectly with the other members of the team and together they succeed. Last summer I had an after-hours program at my library based on the first Lemoncello book. I do not like to do similar events two years in a row, but this book is forcing me to do just that. My summer reading theme (like most of the country) is sports and since it is an Olympic year, we are focusing on the Olympics. Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics will be a perfect tie-in to the summer and the events the children in the book participate in can be easily applied to a library program (minus the hover boards).  The author's website includes a ready-made game that librarian's can request and Grabenstein will e-mail. This book is a slam dunk for libraries and is a fun read for that anyone will enjoy.The end includes an extensive list of all of the book titles mentioned throughout the story for folks interested in digging deeper. Let the games begin!

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