Monday, May 10, 2010
"The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee Stewart
Summary: I was discussing favorite books from childhood with one of my students, and she immediately said this was one of her favorites. It sounded cute, so she brought it in for me to borrow.
The Mysterious Benedict Society is a fun story with lively characters. Each character has clear strengths and weaknesses, and though the message is obvious--only by working together can people be successful--the story is no less fun. My favorite character is Kate, who brings her resourceful bucket with her wherever she goes. Reynie and Sticky may be the brains and cleverness of the operation, but she is definitely the brawn. Constance drove me crazy, just as she does the characters, but her gallant actions in the end made it all worthwhile.
The story is part mystery and part action as the characters snoop around the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. It's fun to figure out the clues as the characters do. The tone is light and exciting (it's compared to the Lemony Snicket books, which I think is apt, although this isn't nearly so self-referential and doesn't directly address the reader).
The villian's evil plans are a bit vague, and the happy ending is perhaps too easy, but the book is a lot of fun, and I think it would be great for middle grade readers.