From School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Trenton Lee Stewart has written a prequel (Little, Brown, 2012) to his "The Mysterious Benedict Society" series with the titular character being a narcoleptic plagued by nightmares as well as a genius with an eidetic memory. Nine-year-old Nicholas is transferred to a new orphanage called Child's End. The children there are mistreated and the orphanage is poorly run, but Nicholas also learns that the former owner had a treasure which both Nicholas and the orphanage director believe is hidden in the house or on the grounds. While avoiding bullies, Nicholas puts his talents to work to find the treasure before the director. The minor characters, like the orphanage staff, are colorful. Nicholas's first friend, John Cole, is the true role model here-gutsy and self-sacrificing. Nicholas finally learns to put others first and uses his many gifts to save the orphanage and improve the conditions. Del Roy's voice is warm and gravelly, but may not compensate for the slow pacing, plodding story line, and an unlikely climax. While the story stands alone, it will primarily appeal to those already invested in the series.-C.A. Fehmel, St. Louis County Library, MOα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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* "Gives readers a reason to fall in love with the series all over again...[with] adventures, danger, cleverness, dry wit, and good-hearted characters at the center of the action." (Booklist, starred review
"Stewart balances the elements of his story beautifully, using the mystery puzzle to drive the plot while heightening tension through encounters with the Spiders and deepening the tenderness by following Nicholas's emotional development...[as] Mysterious Benedict Society fans have come to expect (and love) from master storyteller Stewart."
(The Horn Book
"Stewart fills in the back story on the narcoleptic genius founder of the Mysterious Benedict Society...
admirable insight." (Kirkus Reviews
"Fans will be thrilled with the rich backstory of a beloved character." (School Library Journal