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Friday, August 13, 2010

Mysteriously Fun and Satisfying

The Mysterious Benedict Society
Trent Lee Stewart

Little, Brown, 2007
Juvenile Fiction

"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?"

When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. Reynie Muldoon is an orphan, and he is particularly interested in these tests because he is very gifted and looking for something special in his life. Little does he know that he will be selected, along with three other gifted children, to help overcome an evil empire and save the world.

These four children, each of whom is gifted in a different way, are recruited for this mission by Mr. Benedict because he needs them for a dangerous mission. Their challenge is to infiltrate a private school on an isolated island and stop someone from trying to control the minds of the world’s children. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. As our four heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to learn to trust each other, despite their differences, in order to save their very lives.

If you read and liked Harry Potter, Charlie Bone and Lemony Snicket, you will also enjoy this series. This first title of the series is deceptively simple – after all, it’s good versus evil. But there are very clever devices at work: mainly that things aren’t always what they seem. The reader may think she knows what’s going to happen, but then this reader is surprised to discover that she isn’t so smart after all. Although the book is intended to appeal to children, it will also appeal to adults that enjoy puzzles, mysteries, and brain teasers, because this story incorporates all three. Add a very earnest and conscientious main character who struggles to do the right thing despite his sometimes overwhelming fear, and you have a delightful, unpredictable and satisfying story to enjoy yourself as well as read to any children in your life.


Other books in this series:
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (2008)
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (2009)

Other youth titles you may enjoy:

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller (2006) YA Fiction
Life becomes more interesting for Ananka Fishbein when, at the age of twelve, she discovers an underground room in the park across from her New York City apartment and meets a mysterious girl called Kiki Strike who claims that she, too, wants to explore the subterranean world.

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson (2007) Juvenile Science Fiction
On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry receives a bag of sand which is immediately stolen by the evil Librarians who are trying to take over the world, and Alcatraz is introduced to his grandfather and his own special talent, and told that he must use it to save civilization.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Haddix (1998) Juvenile Science Fiction
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only 2 children, Luke has lived all his 12 years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "3rd" convinces him that the government is wrong.

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