Friday, January 14, 2011

The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society
by Trenton Lee Stewart

This is one of those books that I read and immediately wondered why it hasn't been made into a movie. Though it is a very long book (524 pages), I can't imagine why Hollywood hasn't edited it down into a fun kids movie. After all, this is a book about kids working under cover as spies to save the world from an evil genius!

Our hero in the novel is an eleven-year-old orphan named Reynie Muldoon. Reynie participates in a special test for children with special gifts, and finds out that he has been selected as a member of a The Mysterious Benedict Society. The Society is made up of four children, each selected because of his or her special gifts. Reynie is skilled in logic, and he can think outside of the box to figure his way out of any situation. Stickey Washington is a genius with a photographic memory. Kate Wetherall is my favorite: she's a tough girl who carries a bucket filled with tools that she uses, MacGyver-style, to get things done. And, finally, Constance Contraire is a tiny, stubborn girl with a set of skills that are not revealed until the end of the book.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is sent to the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, which is run by the evil, narcoleptic Ledroptha Curtain. Using logic, resourcefulness, and pure smarts they must stop Mr. Curtain from taking over the whole world using messages sent through television and radio signals. This book is perfect for upper elementary and middle school students because it is filled with puzzles and problems that readers can solve right along with the characters. The writing style and tone are similar to that of Roald Dahl, the spy action is reminiscent of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, and kids who like the art puzzles in Blue Balliet's books Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, and The Calder Game will love the puzzles in this book. The Mysterious Benedict Society is highly recommended, and we are fortunate to have five copies of this book on the shelf because it is a Battle of the Books title for this year. Check it out today @ your library!