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Editorial Reviews Review

Author Interview: Trenton Lee Stewart Interviews Mr. Benedict
Trenton Lee Stewart

Trenton Lee Stewart, author of The Mysterious Benedict Society series, recently sat down with Mr. Nicholas Benedict, the esteemed scientist and intelligence expert, to discuss his new books.

Trenton Lee Stewart: Welcome, Mr. Benedict!

Mr. Benedict: Thank you indeed. Now, why don't we begin with your interest in riddles?

Stewart: My interest? Um, well ... I suppose I've always been drawn to constructive trickery. Riddles, jokes, stories--all these things depend on deception and surprise, yet they also depend on a shared understanding with the audience. Riddles are meant to be solved, just as stories and jokes are meant to be heard. So the successful ones are a sort of collaboration between--sorry, am I going on too long?

Mr. Benedict: [closing his pocket watch] Not at all. Please continue.

Stewart: Let me back up. As a child, I adored a chapter in The Hobbit called "Riddles in the Dark," in which the hero's life depends upon winning a riddle contest... but I feel silly telling you this, Mr. Benedict. You had to solve a real mystery as a boy--when you were a young orphan with narcolepsy, no less--and the stakes were significant. [Smiling at the reader] I give a full account of it in my next book, The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict.

Mr. Benedict: [nodding] A perfectly competent account.

Stewart: Perfectly... competent? Not... not brilliant?

Mr. Benedict: [yawning] Oh, I'm sure it is. And now, a thousand pardons, but I'm afraid I must go.

Stewart: Already? Go where?

Mr. Benedict: [eyelids drooping] To sleep.

Stewart: [catching Mr. Benedict as he slumps forward] Oh, right--the narcolepsy. I guess this, um, concludes our interview, then? Mr. Benedict? Shall I take that snore as a yes?

A Look Inside The Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict's Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

A special message from Mr. Benedict

An elusive enigma worthy of a Society Member

Rules of the Society and a Member Bio

Two perplexing puzzles compiled by Mr. Benedict

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–9—After Reynie Muldoon responds to an advertisement recruiting "gifted children looking for special opportunities," he finds himself in a world of mystery and adventure. The 11-year-old orphan is one of four children to complete a series of challenging and creative tasks, and he, Kate, Constance, and Sticky become the Mysterious Benedict Society. After being trained by Mr. Benedict and his assistants, the four travel to an isolated school where children are being trained by a criminal mastermind to participate in his schemes to take over the world. The young investigators need to use their special talents and abilities in order to discover Mr. Curtain's secrets, and their only chance to defeat him is through working together. Readers will challenge their own abilities as they work with the Society members to solve clues and put together the pieces of Mr. Curtain's plan. In spite of a variety of coincidences, Stewart's unusual characters, threatening villains, and dramatic plot twists will grab and hold readers' attention. Fans of Roald Dahl or Blue Balliett will find a familiar blend of kid power, clues, and adventure in Society, though its length may daunt reluctant or less-secure readers. Underlying themes about the power of media messages and the value of education add to this book's appeal, and a happy ending with hints of more adventures to come make this first-time author one to remember.—Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: The Mysterious Benedict Society (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316003957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316003957
  • ASIN: 0316003956
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (617 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

TRENTON LEE STEWART, author of the award-winning, New York Times bestselling The Mysterious Benedict Society series and the adult novel Flood Summer, lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with his wife and two sons.

Customer Reviews

I would highly recommend this book to kids and adults alike.
Mamma Ro
This story offers clever puzzles, interesting character development, and a topsy-turvy adventure that keeps you turning the pages, but seldom cringing.
I can relate to most of the characters in the story and it has a very fascinating plot and a surprise ending concerning one of the characters.
D. Wooten

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

376 of 388 people found the following review helpful By Matthew T. Carpenter on June 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read to my two sons, age 8 and 9 every night. I was looking for something just a little bit different. Typically they like illustrations to flesh out the narrative, like in the Moomintroll books or Here Be Monsters. The Mysterious Benedict Society is not (alas!) profusely illustrated so when we started it they sort of passively lay back in their beds to listen. By about the 4th page they were sitting up and by the end of the first chapter they were draped over my shoulders reading the pages with me. This book is absolutely captivating for young kids! We would pause while reading to see if we could work out what would happen next or how a knotty problem was overcome; my sons were absorbecd from beginning to end. Children can easily see themselves as the protagonists amd they love to try to figure out the puzzles. Mr. Stewart wants you to try to solve the mysteries with his characters and his writing sparkles with wit and humor. I certainly hope he has more childrens' books for us in the future. Highly recommended!
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153 of 160 people found the following review helpful By Toria Leigh on March 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book caught my eye as I was leaving the library yesterday. I had been continuously studing for days and needed a fictional break. After some odd looks from the librarian ( I guess most college students don't check out philosophy books and children's mystery novels at the same time) I went to my car and began to read. To my surprise, I was reluctant to put it down to drive home. This book is so creative, wonderful, and so many other adjectives that I can't think of right now. There was so much in this book that I could identify with, and I found myself wishing that I was 11 again so I wouldn't have been able to read it so quickly. Bravo Mr. Stewart! Reymie, Sticky, Constance, the Great Kate Weather Machine, and Mr. Benedict have become some of my favorite charaters of all time and I can only hope that we might someday have another adventure together. I recommend this book for Gifted Children of any age, for there are truly many special oppertunities inside.
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94 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Fred on March 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just loved this book. From start to finish it was flat out great. The characters were all interesting and deep (as opposed to superficial cliches), and the plot had some clever twists and neat puzzles. It was fun solving those puzzles along with the characters, too. So if you're looking for a fun read that's not about magic and dragons (as way too many kids books today are), I highly recommend The Mysterious Benedict Society! I can't wait for the sequel.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on June 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was working at the children's department of a major bookstore back when HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE was first published in the U.S. You might not remember that the first two Harry Potter books were released here without much fanfare. Back then, there were no 12-million-copy print runs or midnight sales --- just a book, sitting there on the shelves, ripe for discovery. And discover it we did, setting off a word-of-mouth excitement that spread among the staff and customers, presaging the frenzy that would soon envelope practically the entire world.

As I began to read THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY, I felt a similar sense of discovery and excitement at finding something new, different and very well done. Trenton Lee Stewart's first novel for children is packed with puzzles, mysteries and wordplay, not to mention a great story. I mean, what could be more thrilling than four kids whose mission is literally to save the world?

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY does share some similarities with J. K. Rowling's celebrated series --- a tight group of friends (who don't always get along), absent parents, a school setting --- but it combines these elements with a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek style that will appeal to Lemony Snicket fans and an emphasis on puzzle-solving that will draw in readers who enjoy Blue Balliett's art-related mysteries.

The four central characters of the novel are thrown together when they respond to a mysterious newspaper advertisement that reads "ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD LOOKING FOR SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES?" Following a grueling series of exams, only four children qualify to be sent on a special mission.
Read more ›
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Michelle A. Cope on October 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The adventure begins when orphan Reynard Muldoon (Reynie) answers an advertisement in the paper - "ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD LOOKING FOR SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES?"

Answering the ad leads Reynie to a strange building that opens at odd times and is filled with classrooms of children taking bizarre tests. I found myself taking the tests along with him, and although I was utterly confused by the questions, I was extremely relieved when Reynie was able to ace every test.

At the end of the testing, only four children are picked to take the final exam. Reynie, Sticky (George Washington), Kate Wetherall (who would really like to be called The Great Kate Weather Machine) and Constance Contraire master a maze, well let's say they all almost master a maze, and after some soul searching, they each decide to be part of a team that will embark on a dangerous adventure.

This story was wonderful to read. It gave me the same feeling as when I was reading the Harry Potter series. A little bit of science fiction, with a lot of mystery and a very warm and happy ending is my best "short" synopsis. I loved the description of the places and people throughout the story and it was complete with big spooky houses, bridges over troubled waters and creepy laboratories.

I also recommend this book as a gift. Middle school, high school and adults will enjoy this story. I'm sure it will be added to their collection of "read more than once" or "listen to many times" category.
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