|What You Need to Know:
• Four orphans pass a series of challenging tests to become secret agents on a mission to save the world from an evil
mind control plot.
• This book is long (over 500 pages) – but worth it! .
• The story is geared to both boys and girls.
• There are limited references to technology and the kids’ behavior is completely age-appropriate.
• There is some mean behavior/bullying, a brief fist fight and the concept of narcolepsy to grasp.
• This is the first book in the trilogy, although I’ve heard that a prequel about Mr. Benedict is expected out in 2012.
• Readers will find good examples of teamwork, honesty and determination.
|Sweet Series Background:
The Mysterious Benedict Society is a trilogy about four exceptionally intelligent children who are accepted into Nicholas Benedict's secret society. They are sent on missions in which they come to appreciate their own talents, while they also learn to work together as a team. The fourth book in the series is a prequel, focusing on Nicholas Benedict, at the time when he was a young orphan. In each book the children face physical and mental challenges that remind them of their own value, as well as the importance of their friends. For those who enjoy puzzles and games, there is also Mr. Benedict's Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums.
|Sweet Book Summary:
Kids are empowered in this age-appropriate adventure where good challenges evil and the characters must choose between honor and temptation. I know it may be daunting because it is pretty long, but The Mysterious Benedict Society moves quickly and will keep readers racing along to find out what happens in the end. The book is filled with puzzles and riddles that are fun but will also challenge readers to think. The author reminds readers that there is usually more than one way to tackle a problem and that “smart” can present itself in different ways. There are some challenging words like ominous, eminently and obfuscate and there are a lot of details to keep track of in the 500+ pages so just make sure your reader is ready for that challenge.
It all starts with a newspaper ad, directed at kids, announcing a test offering special opportunities for gifted children. An eleven year-old orphan named Reynie (his parents died when he was a baby) is one of many that show up to take a series of mysterious tests that evaluate brains, bravery and ethics. Reynie and three others (all orphans), Kate, Sticky and Constance, pass the tests, each solving challenging questions and puzzles in their own, unique way. The four high achievers go on to meet Mr. Benedict, the man in charge. This unusual character, a narcoleptic genius surrounded by books, is hoping that these four kids will help him fight against an apparent scheme that involves delivering messages to people without them knowing, causing the world to be out of control and the government to declare a state of “emergency”. They accept his offer and become a team of secret agents, The Mysterious Benedict Society. The key to their success is that they must work as a team. Each of the four characters contributes something unique to the group – Reynie is a logical thinker who doesn’t give up, Sticky remembers everything, Constance stands her ground and Kate is brave and agile. Other than their lack of parents, the one thing they all have in common is their love of the truth and this trait will help them to complete their mission.
With only their own personal skills and without the use of gadgets and technology, Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance go undercover to try to solve the mystery of the strange messages. They enter the L.I.V.E School (evil spelled backwards) and discover a serious operation underway. They find an army of kids with titles like Messenger and Executive, and they’re all under the control of the devious Mr. Curtain. The school is a strange place with it’s own version of logic – you can keep your lights on as long as you wish as long as they’re out by 10pm – and classes that consist of memorizing nonsense phrases. It all has something to do with those messages, but what exactly is Mr. Curtain plotting to do? That’s what the Mysterious Benedict Society must find out. In the process, they discover who they are, what they are capable of handling, and more importantly, what they have the ability to achieve. They confront their fears, resist the temptation to give up their beliefs and remind us that children have the power to do amazing things when they are given the opportunity.
|Author: Trenton Lee Stewart Illustrator: Carson Ellis Published: 2008, 512 pages
Themes: Adventure, Character/Values, Ethics, Friendship, Identity, Government, Mystery, Overcoming Fears, Teamwork
|Sweet Discussion Questions:
• Would you want to be a part of the Mysterious Benedict Society?
• Would you be friends with the members of the Mysterious Benedict Society?
• Are you more like Sticky, Reynie, Kate or Constance?
• If you carried a bucket like Kate, what would you put in it?
• Do you think that you would be able to complete the tests that Sticky, Kate, Reynie and Constance took?
• Why is Mr. Curtain so evil?
• Is there any meaning behind the characters' names?
• Why didn’t the author use more gadgets to help the kids solve the mystery?
• Why is the Mysterious Benedict Society able to figure things out that the adults were not? Why is it important that
they're orphans? How do they feel about being orphans?
• Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma? What was it and how did you handle it?
• Why is the belief in the truth so important to the Mysterious Benedict Society?
• Why is Mr. Curtain afraid of kids?
|This recommendation was written by: Melissa G.
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