‘Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race’ by Chris Grabenstein Is a Worthy Third Book in the Series

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Can author Chris Grabenstein keep on writing “Mr. Lemoncello” books that will have new plots and  new twists and will keep kids (and adults) entertained? From the looks of “Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race,” it appears to be a certainty.

In this third book in the series, Kyle Keeley is once again determined to win a game sponsored by Mr. Luigi Lemoncello, his idol, the famous game maker and inventor extraordinaire. Lemoncello is to libraries what Willy Wonka was to candy in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

The author explains that this book was inspired by a librarian (real heroes to those who love reading). She commented that she wished there was a book about research — and this is Grabenstein’s response. One can be sure that librarian loves this book she inspired. In it, teams of children race to research different people, places and things to win a chance to travel with an exhibit across the country. Along the way, readers get to participate by playing some of the games, solving some of the puzzles, and learning interesting facts.

Grabenstein, like many fine authors, always presents characters who, taken together, represent the essence of diversity. Kyle is paired with Abia, who wears a hijab and at first disapproves of Kyle’s levity and easy-going nature. But it takes all kinds, and she finds out that a team consisting of different approaches to problems works wonderfully — just like in real life.

Along the way, readers will learn about cheating, stealing ideas, and doing the right thing even if it means giving up something important. By the third book in a series, the main character usually has done all the changing there is to do. But in this book, Kyle especially changes and is willing to sacrifice something important to him — winning — to get the truth about Lemoncello. Is Lemoncello a stealing, lying cheat or is he being framed?

The book is not only fun to read, it’s difficult to put down. Engaging, entrancing, and filled with the feel and precision of the language of real literature. What more could any reader — or teacher — want?

Please note: This review is based on the advanced reader’s copy provided by the publisher, Random House, for review purposes.

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