The Mysterious Benedict Society 1

This is the first in a series of posts about… wait for it… a book series. Naturally, this post is about Book 1.

The Mysterious Benedict Society

I began reading these books out of curiosity. I love a story that feels “clever,” and from the first page, The Mysterious Benedict Society delivers. The story follows four very unusual, gifted children: Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance as they are tested for their abilities, drafted (more or, less), trained, and sent on a great adventure to save the world from the diabolical plans of Mr. Ledroptha Curtain (read it out loud… there you go). Mr. Curtain’s plan for world conquest is complicated and hard to battle, and so the Mysterious Benedict Society (so named for their mentor, the brilliant and eccentric Mr. Benedict), have their work cut out for them.

I won’t give away all of the twists and turns of the plot, but I’ll tell you that I read most of this book in the same day.  The author, Trenton Lee Stewart, carefully weaves the tale while placing numerous simple jokes in names, places, and ideas, purely for the enjoyment of the reader. Moreover, the reader has the opportunity to solve the puzzles right along with our young heroes, which is an added bonus.

This book is great for entertainment, and it also pulls the reader into a little critical thinking along the way with the overall plot mysteries, hidden humor, and presented puzzles. It’s a great piece for classrooms and read aloud as well, due to it’s easy conversion to the interactive.

I love the themes in this work, outlined beautifully in the characters, especially Reynie:

Need for belonging: Everyone feels it, and it’s hard when you don’t feel like you fit in anywhere. When you find your place, it’s worth cherishing.

Friendship: It does mean accepting people, even when they can be difficult or annoying.

It’s okay to be different: Each member of the MBS is highly unique. Not only are they extremely different from other children, they’re terribly different from each other. However, they work well together, and their unique abilities are exactly why Mr. Benedict wanted them for his team. If you feel out of place, find a new context- you’re skills can be used for good things.

Critical thinking: You can do it, too. Solve puzzles, reach conclusions. What does given information mean for you? Children can think this way, and they should.

This is definitely an Inklings Recommended book for ages 8(ish) and above. It’s fun for adults, as well as children. Keep in mind, this is a longer book, so young children may prefer it in shorter doses- it’s 512 pages, after all.

Be on the lookout for the next installment: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

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