Chris Grabenstein will present his new book for young readers, “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics,” at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison next Tuesday evening, February 9th, at 5:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public; copies of the book will be available for purchase/signing. Reservations are preferred and can be made online or by calling the store at 203-245-3959. Location: 768 Boston Post Rd.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner rolls out the virtual welcome mat for Chris Grabenstein.
Grabenstein is the author of “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics” (Random House Children’s Books)—the eagerly awaited sequel to the New York Times bestselling “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.” His previous children’s titles include “The Island of Dr. Libris” and several #1 bestsellers co-authored with James Patterson in the I Funny, Treasure Hunters, and House of Robots series. Grabenstein also writes for adults; these works include the Anthony Award-winning series featuring protagonist John Ceepak. The author makes his home in New York City with his wife, three cats, and a dog.
“Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics” was published in January; critical response has been positive. School Library Journal praised: “This is a successful blend of mystery, adventure, and suspense, with a sizable cast of characters, in a wholly satisfying sequel that easily stands alone.” Further, Kirkus Reviews noted: The plot twists and turns before the appropriately satisfying end. Grabenstein obligingly provides a long list of good books to read (mentioned in the text) and challenges readers to find the sources of the quotations from banned books embedded in the narrative. Dewey like this? Of course, and so will upper-elementary and middle school readers and gamers alike.”
From the publisher:
The much-anticipated, puzzle-packed sequel to the New York Times bestselling, award-winning ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY!
Welcome, boys and girls, readers of all ages, to the first-ever Library Olympiad! Kyle and his teammates are back, and the world-famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, is at it again!
This time Mr. Lemoncello has invited teams from all across America to compete in the first ever LIBRARY OLYMPICS. Will it be fun? Like the commercials say. . . HELLO? It’s a Lemoncello! But something suspicious is going on . . . books are missing from Mr. Lemoncello’s library. Is someone trying to CENSOR what the kids are reading?! In between figuring out mind-boggling challenges, the kids will have to band together to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Now it’s not just a game—can Mr. Lemoncello find the real defenders of books and champions of libraries? Packed with puzzles, clues, and thrilling surprises, this is a deliciously fun, action-packed sequel to the New York Times bestselling Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. Let the games begin!
Now, Chris Grabenstein reveals a few pages from the book of his life …
John Valeri: As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?
Chris Grabenstein: When I was a kid, I really wasn’t a bibliophile. One of the reasons I wrote the Lemoncello books was to celebrate all the awesome librarians I have met on my school visits who are constantly putting the right books into the right kids’ hands. I didn’t have librarians like that growing up. What I had was MAD magazine, which taught me about the power of words. I also watched a lot of Golden Age TV shows like The Twilight Zone, which taught me about stories with beginnings, middles, and twisty ends.
JV: What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?
CG: One of the MAD books I used to buy every summer. I’d save up my allowance all year and then, in the summer, buy maybe five. The books were collections of satires and spoofs from past issues of the magazine that I might’ve missed. I still remember that they cost fifty cents each. And they had a great pulpy smell!
JV: What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?
CG: I am currently reading “The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery” by Steve Sheinkin, author of one of my favorite non-fiction books for young readers “Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon.” As always, I am (pun intended) blown away by it. Sheinkin takes history and turns it into a fast paced page turner.
JV: What one book do you always recommend when asked?
CG: “Bud Not Buddy” by Christopher Paul Curtis. It is my favorite book of all time. Such humanity and heart and excellent writing.
JV: Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?
CG: Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics, of course. Because it just came out! And, if you haven’t read the first book in the series, “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library,” I think you’ll want to after you read about Mr. Lemoncello’s wacky Olympic competition.
JV: Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?
CG: Shakespeare. Always been one of my faves. I more or less minored in Shakespeare and theater while I was earning my degree in Communications at the University of Tennessee. I think readers might be surprised that I’m a big fan of the bard because, frankly, my own work is far from Shakespearean.
JV: Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?
CG: Stephen King. He is the voice of my generation. I met him once at a Mystery Writers of America conference. Knees were definitely jelly like that day.
JV: Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?
CG: I guess it happened at a restaurant where my wife was giving one of my bookmarks to a boy we saw reading a book (instead of playing a video game or watching a movie on an iPad) at a nearby table. We do this sometimes. If we catch a kid reading, we’ll give him or her a bookmark and tell them to send me an email and I will send them an autographed book. Well, at this restaurant last summer, the boy jumped up and said, “Is he here? Is Chris Grabenstein really here?” Then his whole family jumped up. Apparently, the boy had not been a big reader until he started reading my books. Now he even reads at the dinner table in a restaurant. Tears were wept. Photos were taken. And I realized — wow, people might actually be reading my books!
JV: What is your greatest literary ambition?
CG: To keep on making up fun stories that kids don’t want to put down. Other people can win the big prizes. I want to win over the reluctant readers.
JV: Fill in the blank: Hartford Books Examiner is _____.
CG: A great friend to authors, books, and reading! Thank you.
With thanks to Chris Grabenstein for his generosity of time and thought and to Aisha Cloud, Publicity Manager at Random House Children’s Books, for helping to facilitate this interview.
Don’t forget: The author will appear at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison on Tuesday evening, February 9th, at 5:30 p.m.