A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Centered on an extremely cool multimedia library, the latest Lemoncello adventure is pretty much off the chart in educational value, what with the constant cheerleading for books and learning, the frequent geeking out over fine points of the Dewey decimal system, and an age-appropriate handling of the First Amendment, book banning, and censorship. To make it easy for would-be readers, there's a list at the end of all the books that get mentioned.
As in the first book, there are plenty of messages about teamwork, cooperation, and the importance of everybody's unique talents and skills. Also, learning is fun, problem-solving skills are important, and things may not be quite what they appear.
Positive Role Models
Kyle and his teammates collaborate well and look out for one another. Many of their competitors are also likable, with many interests that may also entice young readers. Some kids who work with the villains do so for mostly noble reasons but change their ways fast when the villains show their true nature. Rich, zany, and imaginative, Mr. Lemoncello keeps up the wacky patter while matching wits with adults who think learning should be a whole lot more serious and less fun.
Violence & Scariness
One scene involves burning books.
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Occasional references to farts (Walter the Farting Dog, Smell-o-Vision version) and butts, such as:
"'You've played a lot of Mr. Lemoncello's games, haven't you, Kyle?'
"'Enough to know that most of his cheat cards eventually come back to bite you on the butt.'"
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics is the sequel to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and delivers more of what made Chris Grabenstein's first library adventure such a hit: likable heroes; mind-teasing puzzles and challenges; and a steady barrage of book references, educational tech, pop-culture shout-outs, and wisecracks, many of them from madcap genius and game developer Luigi Lemoncello himself. So many books get mentioned in the story (including those by Grabenstein's frequent coauthor James Patterson) that there's a multipage list of all the titles at the end of the book. The story presents strong messages about teamwork, cooperation, and putting aside your differences to work together when there's a problem. Learning is supposed to be fun here; the villains are adults who want to ban books they don't like and eliminate all the cool stuff. Expect a few brief references to butts and farts.
Is It Any Good?
This satisfying sequel is stuffed with puzzles, puns, and virtual reality, plus zillions of book references and pop-cultural shout-outs, from Flora & Ulysses to Queen lyrics. Protagonists Kyle and his teammates are appealing and believable, and readers are sure to be introduced to a few dozen things they didn't know about as they delve deeper into mysterious anti-fun skullduggery. Some kids will find the sheer barrage of rebus-solving one minute and Dewey decimal system trivia the next a bit overwhelming, but many others will eat it up -- and really appreciate the included list of all the books mentioned so they can pursue what intrigues them. Much the same goes for the zany outbursts of banana-shoe-wearing billionaire Mr. Lemoncello, such as:
"'Fear not, Mrs. Gause,' cried Mr. Lemoncello. 'If anyone should ever again threaten this library, I will fly to its aid, much as I should've flown to it all those years ago. But alas, I was too busy doing business in Beijing to come home and save my beloved library, leaving you to ask 'Where's Waldo?' even though my first name was, and still is, Luigi. Moving on. I'd like to quote the lyrics of Rodgers and Hammerstein -- something that's extremely easy to do when you're in a library near 782.14 and all those magnificent Broadway show tunes -- 'I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly!'"
"Mr. Lemoncello leapt off the railing."
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