The Top Shelf: ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’

By Sharon Kilarski
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 3, 2012 Last Updated: November 3, 2012
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Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society is a quirky novel that’s hard to put down. After all, the world’s fate is in the balance when the evil Mr. Curtain matches wits with four genius kids.

These four kids make up the Benedict Society, so named for a benefactor who knows about the evil plot to control everyone’s minds, and who discovers and nurtures the kids to succeed in a mission to save the world.

The children take a very strange entrance exam to prove their special abilities. Reynard Muldoon, who turns out to be the group’s leader, succeeds at the nearly impossibly difficult test because he has a knack for seeing patterns.

George Washington, better known as Sticky Washington, can memorize just about anything, books, facts, mazes—you name it.

Kate Wetherall is bright, but not in any incredible way. Her talent is physical—she’s a kid who can walk on her hands, run like lightning, and measure distances by simply scanning from here to there—the kind of kid who runs away and joins a circus. In fact, she’s been in a circus.

Constance Contraire, abnormally small, can speak in rhymes and has a particularly critical eye, and petulant, stubborn way to her—which eventually proves invaluable to the group.

Middle school-agers will be fascinated by the series of ingenious tests these bright kids are put to, and to the remarkable adventures they face together.

My daughter took especial delight in the clever chapter headings: The Trouble With Children, Or, Why They Are Necessary, and Poison Apples, Poison Worms. Each makes the chapter even more intriguing as it hints at mysterious events to come.

The Mysterious Benedict Society gives a true lesson in how, only when gifts are combined and people work toward a common goal, can success be achieved.

The Mysterious Benedict Society now has three volumes of adventures, and a new prequel.

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