The Mysterious Benedict Society is written by Trenton Lee Stewart and published in 2007. I had seen the book prominently featured in book stores and just recently picked it up to read. The Mysterious Benedict Society is a great children’s book, mainly because Stewart creates a world that is easy to get lost in.
Also, I love when a book creates a world that can be dangerous with characters are smart, resourceful and strong. The book is in the same vein ofHarry Potter with a very crafted and detailed world that makes it easy for readers to fall into. Also, it reminded me of The Giver by Lois Lowry.
The main characters of the book, Constance, Sticky, Kate and Reynie all answer a mysterious ad in the paper. The paper advertises for gifted children who are looking for “Special opportunities.”
From Reynie’s point of view, the reader sees that he is an orphan living in an ophanage that doesn’t challenge his intelligence. He is picked on by the other children and his only relief is his time with his tutor, Miss Perumal. She lets him read the paper and they enjoy their time together. She encourages him to answer the ad and drops him off for the test.
We follow Reynie as he takes the test and works his way into the Benedict house. Along the way, he meets “Sticky”, the only other boy who passes the test. They sit and bond over their testing experiences. I love the brooding atmosphere of the book because you feel, along with Reynie, that something important is about to happen.
Stuart creates a remarkable world where Reynie, Sticky and their cohorts, Constance and Kate embark on a journey to save the world from a crazy genius, Mr. Curtain, who wants to erase the world of their memories. Even though they are alone, they all work as a team. They are brought together by Mr. Benedict, who has narcolepsy and falls asleep in the middle of relaying important information.
He explains that he needs them for a dangerous mission, invading the L.I.V.E school as undercover assistants. Benedict explains that it is imperative to infiltrate the school to understand Mr. Curtain’s plan. Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance are slightly thrilled and very nervous. However, they know if they stick together, they can work through it.
At this, Mr. Benedict looked somewhat uncomfortable. He cleared his throat. “Yes, will, the scouts won’t carry you to the Institute against your will, it’s true. But to the Institute you must certainly go. You are to be my secret agents.”
From sneaking around the school, finding hidden underground tunnels and attempting to save the entire school from losing their memories, Reynie and company give readers a chance to enter a crazy and slightly dangerous world. The climax of the book is fast paced and fun. They learn that sometimes a family doesn’t have to be biological and that they can depend on their own strengths to succeed.
The Mysterious Benedict Society is a great book for any intermediate reader, especially those who enjoyed Harry Potter. The 400 plus page novel is a smart, intriguing read for adults as well! The sequel, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey is on shelves now, while the third installation is in process.
Check out the official website for fun games and riddles: The Curiosity Chronicle
(Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society. Hachette Book Group, 2007.)