A Library Olympiad may not sound mesmerizing to every reader, but this novel returns Kyle Keeley and his Alexandriaville, Ohio friends to another competition created by the mysterious and eccentric Luigi Lemoncello. Kyle has a new nemesis, Marjory Maldauer, a Dewey Decimal wizard who appears to have read nearly every book known to man. In an effort to give kids from across the country an opportunity to win college scholarships, Lemoncello has devised another series of challenges which require teamwork, coordination and intellect. Kyle and the hometown team have reveled for a time in their celebrity, but being on their own turf doesn't provide them much of an advantage. In addition to book cart relays and research among phantom librarians, Kyle's teammates discover a plot to censor the resources in Mr. Lemoncello's library. Without being heavy-handed, the novel addresses the dangers of book burning and promotes the freedom to read.
Throughout the fast-paced storyline, Grabenstein manages to incorporate numerous puzzles and clues which made me feel as though I were part of Kyle's team. His subtle and intriguing glimpses into books, authors and libraries is a bibliophile's dream. It has enough villains to keep the plot moving, and Mr. Lemoncello's library truly reflects the 21st century model for library design. It is a space meant to invite curiosity, to welcome collaboration and to engage with technology to problem-solve. There is no shushing or weighty silence; Mr. Lemoncello's library is more arcade than museum because it is not afraid to invite enough pandemonium to insure reading and learning is accessible to everyone.