Allison's Book Bag

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart

Posted on: June 7, 2010

Imagine being gifted. Or not having any parents. Or being cared for by no one except your tutor. This is Reynie Muldoon’s Life in The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart. And it is all about to change.

Now imagine taking a test by choice. And that test is on a Saturday. And for that test, you can bring only one pencil and one eraser. Once you pass that test, imagine taking not only a second test but a third test. This is the weird situation Reynie faced, before his life turned into one long perilous adventure.

After the second test, Reynie meets the other candidates: George Washington (yes, that really is his name!) known by the nickname of Sticky because everything he reads sticks in his head, Kate who totes all her possessions in a bucket, and Constance Contraire who whines like a mosquito.

By the time these four quirky characters meet their leader, I already thoroughly like them. Okay, I don’t particularly care for the whiny blonde, but neither do the rest of the group. Yet they tolerate her because their leader cautions them that every one of them is important to the success of their mission. By this he means that at some point they will all need to depend upon each other to survive. Their leader is an elderly man who knows a thing or two about accepting people as they are, as he suffers from narcolepsy and falls asleep suddenly and unexpectedly whenever he laughs. And so the group tolerates Constance the way we endure exercise to stay healthy.

During their first meeting with their leader, we learn why these particular children were chosen: young, gifted, alone, resourceful. Authorities remain skeptical of the need of his mission, good men and women have gone missing in the name of the mission, and now these four children are his last hope. They will undertake a mission to save the world from a dangerous organization that seeks to control mankind by taking over people’s minds by enrolling in a school called Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. The idea that children could save the world when adults have failed seems preposterous, but Trenton Stewart makes us believe these particular children have the needed skills–and so we succumb to a suspenseful adventure.

Incidentally, that adventure lasts for several weeks–and covers about 400 pages of this hefty 500-page book. The length truly is its most astounding aspect, because most children’s books run only about half this amount–and yet the book almost feels too short. All the loose ends and then some are wrapped up so perfectly, an all too frequent downfall in children’s books, that I feel slightly unsatisfied.

Yet I love The Mysterious Benedict Society for being a mystery adventure and for rising above its genre. It’s not simply another kid spy book, but one where the importance of individuality, differences, and friendship grace every chapter. Truly, I loved most everything about the book–except that it ended. Of course, isn’t that the reason we have sequels?

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

5 Responses to "The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart"

Great review, Allison! I read this one with my son last year, and we both loved the mysteries — and I loved that the book reinforced the importance of brain power, using one’s talents, and not being afraid of being different. What a great book!

Have you read the rest of the set? I keep meaning to…. One of these days I need to spend a month just reading sequels. 🙂

Yes, we read all three! Really enjoyable. I know there’s a new book (perhaps a new series?), focusing on Nicholas Benedict as a boy, but we haven’t read that one yet.

I saw the Nicholas Benedict book recently at Barnes & Noble. It made me wish for time to devour those longer books again.

Wow! I need to read this book! 😀
Soooooo interesting.
Wow it would be strange starting off with no parents too

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