Archive for April 4th, 2009

Booknotes: The Mysterious Benedict Society

April 4, 2009 @ 6:58 pm | Filed under:

benedictI’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.

In Rolls April

April 4, 2009 @ 7:35 am | Filed under:

What a great week.

My parents drove out from Colorado with my sweet almost-13-year-old niece. (Thanks, sis, for letting us borrow her.) We didn’t do anything big, just hung around the house mostly, spending time together. It was lovely. My mom and dad took the four big kids shopping for Easter clothes (woohoo!), took all the kids to the park, took the big girls swimming at the hotel pool—that kind of thing, mellow and close to home. As for me, I got to putter around the house with the baby during those outings, which is exactly what I wanted to be doing.

I amused myself by twittering in rhyme in honor of Poetry Month, and I mowed my first lawn (thanks, Dad, for the lesson) and my folks did lots more work in the backyard, and we cleaned out a playhouse that was here when we moved into this rental house. We had stuck the kids’ bikes in there and they collapsed in a tangle, and there were spiders, so no one ever rode the bikes or played in the playhouse. Now it’s all clean and spider-free, and we’re going to move a kiddie table and chairs in there and some fun playthings just in time for (gulp) Rilla’s third birthday next week.

That’s right; that baby is about to be three.

My mother made fried green tomatoes with our garden’s first bounty, and we stuffed ourselves on her good cornbread and vegetable soup as we always do when she comes, because she’s the spoil-you-rotten type (and my dad is too) and always makes my favorites when she comes to visit. And they brought me a new solar pump for the birdbath to replace the one we burned out, so now the fountain is merrily arcing again, and the birds are indeed bathing, and the backyard is so pretty with the whisper of jasmine, and the daisies and roses and freesia in bloom, and the fat red geraniums, and the red and purple salvia inviting the hummingbirds to flash in and out, and the phoebe singing her name.

What a great week.