The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society (AR 5.6, 18 points)

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey          (AR 6.1, 19 points)

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma      (AR 6.3, 15 points)

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict                        (AR 6.2, 19 points)

There are four books in this series so far, all a pleasure to read.  Well, there are three books, a prequel, and then there is an additional book of games and puzzles.  (It’s called Mr. Benedict’s Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums, if you are interested.  I have not read this one yet.)  The first book, in my opinion, is by far the best, but the characters are so interesting and the challenges so engaging, you have to read them all once you start.  Be sure to read them in order!

It all starts in book one with a mysterious newspaper advertisement that asks, “Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”  Reynie Muldoon just so happens to be a gifted child, despite being an orphan, and he wishes for any type of opportunity, special or not.  He and his tutor spot this ad in the paper, which requires Reynie to show up at an office building with a bunch of other children to sit for a test.  It’s not just one test, it’s three rounds of tests, and these tests are difficult!  Four children remain at the end of the testing– Reynie, “Sticky” Washington (because everything he reads sticks in his head), Kate Weatherall (who is always carrying a bucket), and Constance Contraire (who is much more than she appears.)

Mr. Benedict is a mysterious man who lives in a mysterious house with some mysterious helpers and he is assembling a mysterious team of gifted children to work on some mysterious projects.  He also has a mysterious condition called narcolepsy, which causes him to fall asleep randomly and without warning.  Each book sends the children off on mysterious missions full of puzzles and clues, hidden identities, bad guys, danger, world travel, gadgets, diabolical mind control devices, spies…. All this re-capping is making me want to sit and re-read these books again!  (Did I mention that they are very mysterious?)

The fourth book is technically a prequel because it tells about Mr. Benedict’s own childhood experiences.  He, too, was a “gifted child looking for special opportunities” and was also an orphan. He was a kid who didn’t quite fit in with other children and it helps to explain why he gathered this particular team later in his life. I just read this one and I really enjoyed it.  I’m hoping it will become it’s own separate series because there is a big wide window of time to fill in between Mr. Benedict’s own childhood and the formation of the Mysterious Benedict Society.  Maybe the MBS started way before the first book picks up the story!  I kept looking for clues that would give more information about the other three books, but so far this one seemed to stand alone.  Maybe another reader will spot some connections for me; if you do, be sure to let me know!

Read these books if YOU are a gifted child seeking special opportunities!  Okay, remember when you first saw the movie for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and you were so bummed that they left out the scene from the book where Harry and Hermione have to solve the riddle with the 7 bottles of potions to get to the Stone?  If that was you (because that was definitely me), read these books.  If you ever read Encyclopedia Brown books, if you like lateral thinking puzzles, or you just like adventures and mysteries, you’ll enjoy this series!  I know I’m putting the first one back into my TBR (to be read) pile for summer vacation!

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