Children's Literature · MG & Kids Lit · Middle Grade

The Mysterious Benedict Society #1 by Trenton Lee  Stewart

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The Mysterious Benedict Society

“Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”

Dozens of children respond to this peculiar ad in the newspaper and are then put through a series of mind-bending tests, which readers take along with them. Only four children-two boys and two girls-succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and inventive children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. But what they’ll find in the hidden underground tunnels of the school is more than your average school supplies. So, if you’re gifted, creative, or happen to know Morse Code, they could probably use your help.
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When a rather strange ad appears in the Stonetown newspaper, lots of children enroll to take several very confusing tests.

Four of them pass:
Reynie (Reynard), who is smart and good at solving riddles and puzzles.
Sticky (George), a boy who has a memory better than an elephant.
Kate, a very agile girl that carries a red bucket full of miscellaneous things.
Constance, who is stubborn, whiney, and likes to write rude rhyming poems.

They are asked to go undercover at L.I.V.E (Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened): a school that makes its own rules, where secret messages are being sent into people’s heads by way of electronics.
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Will they succeed in their epic mission, or not?

I have only read this book twice, but it is one of my favorites! It is part of a series: there are 2 other books featuring the same characters, a puzzle book, and a prequel that was just written this year. I love all four characters, especially Kate and Constance. Kate’s resourcefulness and flexibility are admirable: so is her optimistic attitude and bravery. I don’t identify with her very well: I’m clumsy, and I’m a scaredy-cat (but I am very creative and figure out my own unique ways of doing things). Constance’s complaints and poems are hilarious in a weird way. At one point in the book, she writes a poem about three ugly and disgusting gargoyles named Reynardo, Kateena, and Georgette. This is an interesting way to insult her friends: she has named the gargoyles after them, and she has only subtly modified their names!
Parental Info: Mild Action Violence Not Graphic

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