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The Secret Keepers Hardcover – September 27, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—Parkour practitioner Reuben Pedley has been having a hard time since his mom lost her job and they had to move to a different (and poorer) part of the city. Friendless, he spends his days avoiding the Directions, the enforcement officers of the mysterious Smoke, who runs the city. On one of these afternoons, he finds a very interesting object after getting himself stuck on a ledge while he was supposed to be at home. What he discovers crammed in the masonry of a wall is an extremely old pocket watch that he is certain is worth a large sum and might just help him and his mother leave the poor part of town. Instead, he realizes that the watch has a little bit of magic in it, which gives him a special ability. Regrettably, the Directions learn of the presence of the watch, and they will stop at nothing to bring it to the Smoke. Only Reuben and his newfound friends have what it takes to solve the mystery of the watch and save their city. VERDICT Fans of Stewart's "Mysterious Benedict Society" and series like it will devour his latest novel. This epic story filled with adventure and twists and turns is certain to keep readers' interest from beginning to end.—Wayne R. Cherry Jr., First Baptist Academy Library, Houston
Praise for The Mysterious Benedict Society:
*"Children will be caught up in the mystery, trying to decipher the clues as they follow Reuben and his new-found friends in their race to save the town from a dreadful future.... All in all, this is another winner from Trenton Lee Stewart."―School Library Connection (starred review)
"There are enough hidden tunnels, concealed traps, enigmatic secrets, hair-raising surprises, quirky characters, and ethical dilemmas to keep the plot buzzing. Fans of the Mysterious Benedict Society series will welcome Stewart's latest puzzling adventure, whose seemingly ordinary hero proves quite extraordinary."―Kirkus Reviews
"Fans of the Mysterious Benedict Society series will be thrilled to see a new Stewart novel, and this adventure easily lives up to the high bar....The Smoke is an excellent main villain, creepy and oozing menace, and his various henchmen are worthy additions to the novel."―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
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Reuben soon learns that the pocket watch has a secret and mysterious power and his largely feral life takes an interesting turn. He is initially quite excited about his newly discovered treasure, but the watch seems to possess its own destiny which it insists that he share with it. Its power soon becomes obvious as one dark secret leads to another and Reuben is confronted with a multitude of dilemmas that pit his basic honesty and reserved nature against the powerful allure of fame and heroism.
Like so many literary reluctant heroes, Reuben must deal with the stark reality that he's been thrust into a dangerous adventure filled with a host of strange characters, a series of threatening events that might end in disaster and some unlikely, last minute escapes. All of this occurs while he's busily rushing to solve the central mysteries that confront him before he finds himself another victim of this unknown power. There are helpful friends that he meets along the way but Reuben must outwit and defeat a strange and powerful villain called The Smoke and his evil defenders called the Directions and rescue his already decaying city from its awful destiny.
Stewart is a fine writer who tautly builds suspense as he reveals the central mysteries that lay at the heart of the novel. The novel is a bit dark and some readers may even find it slightly depressing at the beginning, but once it gets rolling and Stewart's inventiveness draws you into Reuben's world, you'll find yourself enjoying his adventures and relishing the opportunity to satisfy your own curiosity by uncovering all of the mysteries that confront its young hero. My first experience reading this writer has been a good one and I'm looking forward to reading the Mysterious Benedict Society series.
Characters are well-developed.
The plot line isn't straight forward (which is GOOD - no one wants an obvious ending), but not so convoluted as to be too outrageous.
It kept the kids guessing and was entertaining for both kids and adults.