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The Mysterious Benedict Society (Mysterious Benedict Society Series #1)

The Mysterious Benedict Society (Mysterious Benedict Society Series #1)

4.6 1152
by Trenton Lee Stewart, Carson Ellis

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Young readers who have worked their way through Lemony Snicket may well find their next obsession in The Mysterious Benedict Society, a dandy YA debut by novelist Trenton Lee Stewart. This engaging tale has all the elements tweens find intriguing: gifted kids, a dangerous mission, and a secret society where nothing is as it seems. Stewart throws plenty of challenges -- physical, mental, and moral -- in the path of his young protagonists, and readers will have fun solving the riddles and unraveling the clues in this smart, unconventional mystery. Complex, unpredictable, and deeply respectful of children's innate intelligence, The Mysterious Benedict Society is highly recommended for thoughtful preteens. P.S. We loved it, too!
Publishers Weekly

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
Children's Literature - Mary Jo Edwards
Dozens of young people answer a newspaper ad that offers gifted children special opportunities. After only four of them pass a series of challenging tests, two boys and two girls are admitted to the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. Their secret mission is to discover who is using children to send hidden messages through radio and television transmissions. The children successfully use their special skills to thwart the headmaster's evil plan. Although Stewart's debut novel is lengthy, it is fast-paced and will hold the reader's interest. Children will find out that the Institute's headmaster is the evil twin brother of the kind gentleman behind the newspaper ad, Mr. Benedict. The young characters in this title will inspire the reader to follow through with their obligations, even when faced with temptation, self-doubt, and fear. This is a feel-good story with a happy ending for the four orphaned and runaway children who find friendship and family.
VOYA - Donna Scanlon
Reynie, an exceptionally intelligent eleven-year-old orphan, responds to an ad seeking "gifted children for special opportunities." After testing, he is one of four youth who pass all the tests. He and the others-Sticky, Kate, and Constance-meet Mr. Benedict, who has brought them together to save the world from a plot to control it through an invention called the Whisperer, a device that works on a subliminal level to undermine the public's self-esteem and perception of safety. To complete their mission, the four children must enter the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened-conveniently situated on an island in the harbor of their town-as prospective students. The mission's success relies on the talents of each youth: Reynie's knack for leadership, Sticky's eidetic memory, Kate's energy and resourcefulness, and Constance's stubborn and contrary nature. The four call themselves the Mysterious Benedict Society, their first step in bonding as a family. Stewart's style is reminiscent of authors such as Cornelia Funke or Garth Nix. His writing is clear, intelligent, and respectful of his audience. He maintains the suspense brilliantly and introduces a subtle horror in the children's situation in the school that is chilling yet not overwhelming. He laces the narrative with subtle humor on all levels. The characters are well developed, mostly appealing, and evenhanded. Ellis's line drawings add a crowning flair. Do not miss this one. Buy two copies because they will be needed.
School Library Journal

Gr 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. MeisterCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Running long but hung about with cantrips to catch clever readers, Stewart's children's debut pits four exceptional youngsters, plus a quartet of adult allies, against a deranged inventor poised to inflict an involuntary "Improvement" on the world. Recruited by narcoleptic genius Mr. Benedict through a set of subtle tests of character, Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance are dispatched to the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened to find out how its brilliant founder, Ledroptha Curtain, is sending out powerful mental messages that are sowing worldwide discord. Gifted with complementary abilities that range from Reynie's brilliance with detail to Constance's universally infuriating contrariness, the four pursue their investigation between seemingly nonsensical lessons and encounters with sneering upper-class "Executives," working up to a frantic climax well-stocked with twists and sudden reversals. Low in physical violence, while being rich in moral and ethical issues, as well as in appealingly complex characters and comedy sly and gross, this Lemony Snicket-style outing sprouts hooks for hearts and minds both-and, appropriately, sample pen-and-ink illustrations that look like Brett Helquist channeling Edward Gorey. (Fantasy. 11-13)
From the Publisher
"Begins with a bang... resembles the otherwordly experience of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Fans of Roald Dahl or Blue Balliett will find a familiar blend of kid power, clues, and adventure."—School Library Journal (starred review)

"Tackles personal concerns: abandonment, family, loyalty, and facing one's fears."—Booklist (starred review)

"Dashes of mild humor and introspection rest on a solid base of suspense, mystery, and well-rounded characters, making this a satisfying dish for readers of varying tastes."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

"Do not miss this one. Buy two copies because they will be needed."—VOYA

"Real flashlight under the bedclothes material... this story flies past, thrilling us as it goes."—Horn Book

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Mysterious Benedict Society Series , #1
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Sales rank:
890L (what's this?)
File size:
8 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Mysterious Benedict Society

By Trenton Lee Stewart

Little Brown For Young Readers

Copyright © 2007 Trenton Lee Stewart
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-316-05777-6

Chapter One

In a city called Stonetown, near a port called Stonetown Harbor, a boy named Reynie Muldoon was preparing to take an important test. It was the second test of the day-the first had been in an office across town. After that one he was told to come here, to the Monk Building on 3rd Street, and to bring nothing but a single pencil and a single rubber eraser, and to arrive no later than one o'clock. It he happened to be late, or bring two pencils, or forget his eraser, or in any other way deviate from the instructions, he would not be allowed to take the test, and that would be that. Reynie, who very much wanted to take it, was careful to follow the instructions. Curiously enough, these were the only ones given. He was not told how to get to the Monk Building, for example, and had found it necessary to ask directions to the nearest bus stop, acquire a schedule from a dishonest bus driver who tried to trick him into paying for it, and walk several blocks to catch the 3rd Street bus. Not that any of this was difficult for Reynie Muldoon. Although he was only eleven years old, he was quite used to figuring things out for himself.

From somewhere across the city, a church bell struck the half hour. Twelve-thirty. He still had a few minutes to wait. At noon thedoors of the Monk Building had been locked, so Reynie had bought a sandwich at a deli stand and sat down on this park bench to eat. A tall building in Stonetown's busiest district must surely have many offices inside, he thought. Locked doors at noon seemed a little peculiar. But then, what hadn't been peculiar about this whole affair?

To begin with, there was the advertisement. A few days before, Reynie had been reading the newspaper over breakfast at the Stonetown Orphanage, sharing sections with his tutor, Miss Perumal. (As Reynie had already completed all the textbooks on his own, even those for high school students, the orphanage director had assigned him a special tutor while the other children went to class. Miss Perumal didn't quite know what to do with Reynie, either, but she was intelligent and kind, and in their time together they had grown fond of sharing the morning paper over breakfast and tea.)

The newspaper that morning had been filled with the usual headlines, several of them devoted to what was commonly called the Emergency: Things had gotten desperately out of control, the headlines reported; the school systems, the budget, the pollution, the crime, the weather ... why, everything, in fact, was a complete mess, and citizens everywhere were clamoring for a major - no, a dramatic - improvement in government. "Things must change NOW!" was the slogan plastered on billboards all over the city (it was a very old slogan), and although Reynie rarely watched television, he knew the Emergency was the main subject of the news programs every day, as it had been for years. Naturally, when Reynie and Miss Perumal first met, they had discussed the Emergency at great length. Finding themselves quite in agreement about politics, however, they soon found such conversation boring and decided to drop the subject. In general, then, they talked about the other news stories, those that varied day to day, and afterward they amused themselves by reading the advertisements. Such was the case on that particular morning when Reynie's life had so suddenly taken a turn.

"Do you care for more honey with your tea?" Miss Perumal had asked - speaking in Tamil, a language she was teaching him - but before Reynie could answer that of course he wanted more honey, the advertisement caught Miss Perumal's eye, and she exclaimed, "Reynie! Look at this! Would you be interested?"

Miss Perumal sat across the table from him, but Reynie, who had no trouble reading upside down, quickly scanned the advertisement's bold-printed words: "ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD LOOKING FOR SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES?"

How odd, he thought. The question was addressed directly to children, not their parents. Reynie had never known his parents, who died when he was an infant, and it pleased him to read a notice that seemed to take this possibility into account. But still, how odd. How many children read the newspaper after all? Reynie did, but he had always been alone in this, had always been considered an oddball. If not for Miss Perumal he might have even given it up by now, to avoid some of the teasing.

"I suppose I might be interested," he said to Miss Perumal, "if you think I would qualify."

Miss Perumal gave him a wry look. "Don't you play games with me, Reynie Muldoon. If you aren't the most talented child I've ever known, then I've never seen a child at all."

There were to be several sessions of the test admistered over the weekend; they made plans for Reynie to attend the very first session ...


Excerpted from The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart Copyright © 2007 by Trenton Lee Stewart. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Trenton Lee Stewart is the author of the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Mysterious Benedict Society series. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Carson Ellis received her BFA from the University of Montana and has established a loyal following for her artistic collaborations with the band the Decemberists. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

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The Mysterious Benedict Society (Mysterious Benedict Society Series #1) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1152 reviews.
FHResident More than 1 year ago
I am an 11 year old girl and I found this book was so engaging! I couldn't stop reading it! All the characters were so intersting and the story is very captivating. I loved the puzzles and the mysteries that the characters had to solve. I also loved that all the names of characters and places had secret meanings hidden in them. This was definitely one of the best book I've ever read.
Dr.Dad More than 1 year ago
My son and I really enjoyed reading this book together. It had many great lessons and principles about friendship, teamwork, persistence and loyalty. It really lent itself to deeper discussions about life and values. The plot was captivating and it was easy to see yourself in the action. Consequently it was fun to ask my son what he would have done or done differently than the characters in the story.

Even though the children in the book were uniquely gifted, they retained some of the common,ordinariness of all kids and so were easy to identify with. It reminded me of the Harry Potter and Series of Unfortunate Events series without the supernatural or bizarre. Despite the realism, the storyline was exciting as the kids defeat the mad genius villian bent on world domination. It's a great read and you and your kids will love it!
TheCritic More than 1 year ago
This is a great book about some extraordinary kids. A great book, a classic. I love it. I highly recommend it. They get into some "STICKY" situations, and just barely get out of them. A MUST READ!
Will_Read_for_Fun More than 1 year ago
I read the book very quickly because it was great. I would recommend for people 9-15. It all depends on the reading level. I enjoyed and bought the second book soon after.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd never heard of the mysterious benedict society when I sat started reading it, and after a few pages I was blown away. As I am personally an adult, the story brought be back to my childhood reading the hardy boys and nancy drew. I loved the concept of 4 kids trying to solve interesting mysteries. The really great thing about this book is that it is really a pretty unpredictable storyline, and the puzzles and problems that the 4 kids have to solve are intersting for the reader to try to take a crack at too. Overall it was an excellent read and I highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Engaging, diverse characters find themselves trapped in a dangerous world... and combine their unique talents (and the help of unusual friends) to overcome obstacles in order to save the world. A tale of bravery, determination and friendship. Caution - if you're opposed to the casual use of the word STUPID, be aware that the characters in the book (including the children) favor this word. Otherwise, the language is OK.
Balina More than 1 year ago
this book is amazing. enjoyed it a lot and will order the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the series. Reynard, Constance, George(Sticky), and Kate were four smart kids going through this adventure. I love Kate's creativeness, Reynie's Cleverness, Sticky's mind and Constance's stubborness. All essential to their mission. I'm 12 and loved this series since I was 10. Trenton Lee Stewart forever!
SyFyFan More than 1 year ago
This was a well written, exciting and fast moving book. The characters are developed nicely. The story is detailed, yet does not drag on. It is intended for children, but I would recommend for any age. great book for the family to share. Look forward to reading the next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a total bookworm and was looking for an awesome read this summer. I looked at the reviews and went ahead and bought it. Reading the first book and HOOKED!!! I've finished both the harry potter and percy jackson series and recommend this book to anyone who likes them too. This is NOT a waste of money at all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Must read!!!!!!
marbo16 More than 1 year ago
The Mysterious Benedict Society is definitely my favorite book. I thought the name of the villain, Ledroptha Curtain, is kind of clever because it sounds like "let drop the curtain." In the book, Mr. Curtain tried to gain mind control over millions of people by sending hidden messages through radio and TV, and four kids, Constance Contraire, Reynard Muldoon (better known as Reynie), George Washington (better known as Sticky), and Kate Wetherall, tried to find out exactly what he was doing and stop him with the help of Mr. Benedict, who wrote the tests that got the kids on their mission in the first place, and his assistants, Rhonda and Number Two, who also passed the tests. Sticky is the one who knows all the facts. Reynie is the puzzle solver. Kate is the athletic daredevil who isn't afraid of things most people would be terrified of. And Constance is the cranky one who just seems like a burden towards the begining of the story, but ends up playing an important role in the mission. At the ending there was a letter from Mr. Benedict that said he knew that some people wanted to know his first name and that people could figure it out if they knew what "the code" was. It took me forever to figure that one out. I think that anyone age 9 and up looking for a long action-mystery-science fiction book that they can get really absorbed in should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books i have read in a long time. My grandparents got me this book and i thought i would hat it. I was really wrong. This book is full of myateries and puzzles and sleep. ;) i loved this book so much just like two days later i finished and they got me the next two. I finished those just as quickly. Nicholas Bennedict has my vote for best book character in this whole series. My expectations are very high for books amd if they domr meet them i put the book down. I never put this book down. I hope you read this book and agree that is book is superb. If you dont i will shun you until you agree even if i dont know you. I will shun you from a distance. I hope you love this book just as much as i did. Remember if you dont like this book i will shun you l: )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before I got my Nook, I was at my friends house amd I was reading this book. They probably got very annoyed that I wasn't listening to them, but this book got me very hooked. I never bought it, but I really want to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a mix of adventure, humor, and science. I would reccomend this book to kids ages 10 and up along with all adults! Great book!
Refill More than 1 year ago
A fun book about four children sent to stop a mind-control conspiracy, "The Mysterious Benedit Society" is a smart children's book for young and older. I could easily imagine parents reading this to their children, and after the kids have fallen asleep a parent taking this to their own room to continue reading. Some decent twists and turns, some nice action, and good illustrations make this an easy and entertaining read. Definitely looking forward to book two in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Mysterious Benedict Society is part mystery, part adventure, and part science fiction. You will love it like crazy. Trust me, I did, and I couldn't put it down. Reynie, Sticky, Kate, Constance, and everyone else at the Society are every day characters you can't help but fall in love with. I guarantee you will love this book. Why else would it have a four and a half star rating? You'd better set aside sometime to read this book, because you won't be able to stop. Can't wait to read the next one! Posted by: Lauren Kellie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friend gave me this book last year. I started it and found it boring after a few months i tried it again and loved it... Meet: Sticky,a boy who can remember every thing . Kate,athletic and supper active Constance,craky and short for the age everyone thinks she is. Reynie,good at solving puzzels and a great friend to have around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever.....He is fantastic at descriptions and creating metal pictures and i wish they would make a movie based on the book....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The entire series is a great read for everyone that likes to solve childhood mysteries.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If your wanting a nice, long not to challenging book then this is perfect for you! This book is in my opinion the best one in the whole triology because it is the starting point in the whole series and the most interesting! This book is great for whoever would like to read it and i encourage you to read this. I am now at 16 years of age and still reading this triology, so read it! :)
bookworm4everCO More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed The Mysterious Benedict Society. I recently got this book last Saturday (Jan. 16, 2010) and now I am very close to finishing and it has been less than a week! I could not put this book down! I didn't even know what the book was about when I bought it, and now I know plenty. This book is great for many ages, but has more advanced vocabulary. This book is amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think the book is brilliant and exiting!!!!
ClematisGS More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book. It kept my attention through out the story. It had an interesting story in that a gifted, intelligent man wanted to rule the world by using hidden messages through TV to change people. I really like the idea that children were able to stop the genius by using their combined skills and intelligence to overcome the problem. It was a creative story line and I never figured out that the one character was just a toddler until the end of the book. It was nice to have a good ending and have things work out for all of the children.
Dlcg More than 1 year ago
THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING!!! I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN!!!!! It will really get you thinking. It is about this group that is battling--, well you'll see. It is very thought provoking and will twist and turn all the way to it's spectacular ending. I think everyone should read this book atleast once. I wish I could give it a thousand stars but they only allow five so I'll settle for that. Happy Readings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Mysterious Benedict Soiciety series is one of my favorites! Ive done many a class prodjet on it, and Im currently in the process of reading them to my little sister recommended for ages 8-12 by me an 11yr old. I fell in love with the charecters Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and (last but most definatly NOT least) Miss Constance Contraire. Mr. Benedict's clever and most definatly funny foursome have compelled.me to read the seires again and again and brought my sister and I closer together. I must warn you though, Ledroptha Curtain is one evil man and this page turner can show you how exrreme fear can turn you to take over the world...