Author Interview: Trenton Lee Stewart Interviews Mr. Benedict
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
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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
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