Booknotes: The Mysterious Benedict Society
I’m halfway through The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, and already I know this is a keeper. Figuratively speaking, I mean, because the copy I’m reading doesn’t belong to us. It’s the kind of book you want to own a copy of, the kind the kids are going to fight over when they grow up and start claiming favorites from these overcrowded shelves. So good, this book. I can recommend it wholeheartedly even before I read the second half.
It’s a mystery, full of puzzles, loaded with quirky characters in tight spots. Reynie Muldoon, our young hero, is an eleven-year-old orphan who answers an ad aimed at “gifted children seeking special opportunities.” The first “opportunity” turns out to be a series of curious tests containing questions such as “What’s wrong with this statement?” (“What’s wrong with YOU?” writes another special-opportunity-seeking child, an obstinate and somewhat churlish girl named Constance.)
Only a very few children make it through the rounds of testing, either by merit of their intellect or their daring, their inventiveness, their creative approach to problem-solving—and all of them by merit of their strong sense of honor and truthfulness. The peculiar tests are but the beginning of an adventure that quickly escalates to a perilous mission requiring strength of character and quick wits.
And if this all sounds very vague, that’s because I wouldn’t dream of spoiling any of this captivating novel’s many twists and turns. As I said, I’m halfway through, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
This book (and its sequel!) are making the rounds among our homeschool friends right now (both kids and moms). My daughter has been wearing a bucket full of needful things everywhere she goes and last week rescued a coloring book that had fallen behind the washing machine by strapping duct tape from the bucket to the handle of a broom and fishing it out a la Kate…This week she is listening to the second book (The MBS and the Perilous Journey)on CD while I try to keep up by reading it. What great breakfast conversations we’re having! There’s nothing like a good new book!!
On April 4, 2009 at 7:18 pm
Shea's Mom says:
Yes, my daughter (10) and I read this book together and it was fun. The story was a bit of a surprise and a little grisly with the putting the kids in the awful room and all the bullying.
But, it kept us on our seats and we really enjoyed it. We got the next one but it didn’t bite as the first one did but we will probably give it another try over Spring break.
On April 4, 2009 at 7:47 pm
I read this to my nine year old son last year. We were totally sucked in by the all the cool tests. We got a little bogged down in parts, but overall totally worth it. We’ve got the sequel on hold right now at the library.
On April 4, 2009 at 8:32 pm
Christa Bartlett says:
I’m glad you posted this because I’ve had my eye on that book for months. I read the back at B&N and found myself completely intrigued. I don’t have a kid old enough to enjoy it yet, so I hesitated to buy it. (You know how moms are about buying something just for themselves.) But it will go on my To Purchase list now, for sure.
On April 5, 2009 at 4:12 am
Wait till you find out what makes Constance so obstinate!
On April 5, 2009 at 4:43 am
I saw this at the discount store this week – I wish I’d grabbed it now. Age rec? I read 9 and 10 in the comments. Is that about right?
On April 5, 2009 at 5:16 am
I got this from the library earlier this week after reading your list of books. And I am enjoying it so much and plan on recommending it to my kids – especially my 12 yo dd – it will be perfect for one of the remaining two book reports at school (she’s at public school – currently reading Julie for one of those two reports.
On April 5, 2009 at 6:07 am
My 10 year old raced through this one and the sequel… I still haven’t caught up yet! Hers were from the school library, so I might need to purchase copies of our own.
On April 5, 2009 at 10:40 am
Melissa Wiley says:
Anne–LOL LOL LOL!!! You are so right! I really DID LOL!
On April 5, 2009 at 6:31 pm
LOL, I just finished and yes, I found out!
this book had a LOT of surprises in it for me, and I enjoyed it so much. I’ve passed it on to dd12, and she has already been caught reading it after lights out, so I think she’s enjoying it…
On April 7, 2009 at 8:33 am
BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!! Well tied with Harry Potter anyways… Love it!!!!!! If you like Twilight (yuck i dont) you might like this… actually no because you would be upsessed with love and stuff so if you like Harry Potter of Uglies ( luv ’em both!) YOu will like these!!!! Man i wish i could either
1) Be in the Harry Potter World
2) M.B.S. World
3) or Phineas and Ferb!!!!
IM weird i no it!!!
On October 21, 2009 at 7:03 pm
I’m 13 and have really been enjoying the series. I recently finished the third and loved it. Just thought I’d let all moms out there know; it’s not just for 9 & 10 year olds! Older kids will love it just as much as everyone else!
On November 29, 2009 at 5:02 pm
Natalie Rose says:
I completely agree with Cassidy, I’m 14 and I just polished off the third MSB book in one sitting. (It was wonderful, though I still think the first book was the best.) It came out over a month ago, but I didn’t let myself buy it until recently because I knew it would distract me from the more pressing matter of school work;)
On November 29, 2009 at 7:08 pm
Susan C. says:
I am 28 and I love these books! They are so witty and fascinating. I love books like this that can capture young kids and young adults attention.
On August 9, 2010 at 5:01 pm