When a peculiar advertisement appears in the newspaper for children to take part in a secret mission, children everywhere sit a series of mysterious tests. In the end, just four children succeed: Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance. They have three things in common: they are all honest, all remarkably talented and all orphans. They must go ...
When a peculiar advertisement appears in the newspaper for children to take part in a secret mission, children everywhere sit a series of mysterious tests. In the end, just four children succeed: Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance. They have three things in common: they are all honest, all remarkably talented and all orphans. They must go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened where the only rule is that there are no rules. There they must work as a team to save not only themselves, but also the world outside the walls.
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I enjoyed the variety of characters that are the protagonists in this story. It shows the wide range of ways in which people can be gifted and is wonderfully free from stereotypes. The children have to work together, each contributing what he or she is good at and being patient with one another, in order to solve the problems that arise. This first book is probably my favorite of the series.
Feb 5, 2009
Similar in style to Series of Unfortunate Events, with interesting characters. Long for a kids' book, but worth the time.
Jul 13, 2008
How Come I Haven't Hear This Title Sooner?!
I read this book because it is part of a book discussion group coming up this fall and I am so glad I did. It has a few twists and turns in the beginning but really takes off after a few chapters. Reynie is hard not to like and Kate is amazing with all of her abilities and of course where would they be without Sticky? Lots of adventure in this one, reminds me slightly of The Silver Crown. Very enjoyable.
Mar 27, 2007
Next big thing?
Trenton Lee Stewart's first book, although a weighty tome, both physically and thematically, was zipped through by a 10 year old, a 9 year old and myself, a 30+year old, in less than two weeks. Stewart hooks his readers with awkward, yet sympathetic, protagonists who must confront a villain with a preposterous, but almost possible, plot. Guided by the mysterious Mr. Benedict, the four main characters, Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance, must try to undermine the evil Mr. Curtain's attempt to take over the world by broadcasting subconscious propaganda. While the premise sounds ominous, the friendship that develops between the foursome takes center stage over the controversial use of media mind control. Plot twists, secret codes, and brain games make this book engaging, while the antics and comaraderie of the four plus some amusing foils keep the tone light. We're looking forward to the next book by Mr. Stewart and wondering if the Mysterious Benedict Society could outsell A Series of Unfortunate Events and perhaps even challenge Harry Potter if the word gets out.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-12-18 Stewart's (Flood Summer, for adults) first book for young people begins with a bang. Gifted 11-year-old orphan Reynie Muldoon is sharing the newspaper with his tutor when she excitedly points out an ad: "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" She encourages him to take the series of tests cited in the ad, and the entire process resembles the otherworldly experience of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with puzzles within puzzles and tests within tests-some mental, some ethical, some physical. Ultimately three children pass the first test and go on to the next: Reynie, Sticky (born George) Washington and Kate Wetherall-all of them essentially orphans. A fourth, the "very, very small" Constance Contraire, joins them later, and Mr. Benedict describes why he has brought them together. Initially, readers-like the four children-may be unsure of what to think about this mysterious gent: Is he hero or villain? Mr. Benedict has recruited them to foil an evil plan, devised by a mysterious "Sender," to brainwash the population via secret messages-delivered by children-embedded in television and radio programs. The plot-driven novel follows many adventures among the four, whose unique talents all come into play; readers will likely warm to each of them. A couple of concluding twists involving Kate and Connie may throw readers a bit, but these do not detract from the book's entertainment value or from the author's sound overall structure. Though the book is lengthy, readers will likely enjoy getting lost in this fully imagined realm. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-05-21 Kids who are itching for a boarding-school-set fantasy-adventure in between visits to Hogwarts might pleasantly pass the time listening to this quirky tale, which is narrated with panache and a tone of childlike curiosity by Roy. When an ad reading "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" appears in a local paper, it's hard for many children to resist. But only four out of dozens pass the rigorous mind-bending tests that prove they are special and talented enough to undertake a mysterious mission at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened (as assigned by narcoleptic benefactor Mr. Benedict). Reynie, Kate, Sticky and Constance band together using their unique gifts (be it for photographic memory, puzzle-solving or acrobatics) to uncover the dastardly plot of the Learning Institute's founder, Ledroptha Curtain. Roy's voice, masculine and scratchy, but able to reach a youthful high pitch, is an enjoyable companion for the four protagonist's exploits. Though some of Mr. Curtain's plans sound preposterously convoluted, they are humorously so. Listeners are rewarded when all wraps up nicely by program's end. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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