Goodreads: Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race
Published: Sept. 2017
When Mr. Lemocello’s reputation is threatened by a woman who claims he stole her intellectual property, it’s up to Kyle and his friends to find the truth. They’ll go on a fact-finding mission throughout the U.S. to check their sources and do the research no one else seems to care about.
Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race is a book that seems to be written for librarians and teachers. With its focus on doing research, double-checking facts, and not believing everything you read online or see on the news, it is a timely addition to the conversation surrounding “fake news.” Whether kids care about this message remains to be seen. Luckily, the book provides all the ridiculous fun that made the first installment a bestseller.
I admit myself slightly disappointed in this book because it has a flaw that I am seeing increasingly more of in both MG and YA: a premise that makes zero sense. I am not saying that I was simply unable to suspend my disbelief. My favorite genre is fantasy and I can accept a lot of strange things–provided they adhere to some sort of logic. In this book, however, as with the second installment in the series, logic is out the door.
The crisis comes when Mr. Lemoncello’s reputation is threatened by a woman who claims he stole a board game idea from her. Immediately, the mayor of the city tosses everyone out of Mr. Lemoncello’s library and briefly closes it. He then installs Lemoncello’s rival gamemakers as the heads of the library. Unstated is that the library is not funded by tax dollars but by Mr. Lemoncello himself. So the mayor cannot close down the library just because of some unproven allegations (“innocent until proven guilty” in the U.S., remember!), nor can he install someone else as the owners of the property. In fact, people who live out of state typically are not installed as directors of local libraries. But does the law or logic matter in this story. Of course not! Why let little things like that get in the way?
My firm belief is that a really masterful writer does not have to hand wave away logic in order to write a good story. Instead, they overcome the obstacles to write a story that makes sense. To me, the increasing disregard for logic makes this series a bit of a disappointment, even if the puzzles are fun and even if Mr. Lemoncello is no doubt amusing to middle-school audiences. However, I pretty sure I am alone in this opinion–it sells well and, as I said, teachers and librarians tend to eat it up. So don’t let my ridiculous love for logic stop you from picking it up.