The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart is another book I was immediately attracted to because of the cover. I mean, look at it. It's so intricate and well planned but clearly hand drawn. For several weeks I was so in love with the cover that I was too nervous to read the book. What if the words didn't live up to the pictures? I finally caved in and ended up devouring this mammoth of a children's book.
Let's start with the story. Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance all answer an ad in the newspaper asking, "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?". After a series of tests and riddles, the children are introduced to Mr. Benedict, a man on a mission to save the world. Together the children form The Mysterious Benedict Society and set out for the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, the site of some very bad and mysterious happenings. Can the children stop the evil Mr. Curtain from broadcasting signals of confusion to the masses in order to appoint himself Master of the Universe? One thing's for certain, in order to achieve anything, they'll have to work together.
So let's set aside how awesome the concept of a secret society is and move onto the themes of this book. Love and belonging, huge. The concept of creating your own family, huge. Good over evil, big one. Ingenuity, there. Working together, bingo. All those lovey positive ideals we want our children to come away with, but presented in a smart little adventure.
Other features of amazingness:
1. The cool badass character is a girl.
- Kate is the go-to-girl when you need to get a job done. She carries a utility bucket with her at all times filled with basic tools you just might need, like rope, marbles, a slingshot, or a penlight. How refreshing to have the physically heroic figure be a female. Woot, Kate! (She's not the fall down when the going get's tough type, like Princess Buttercup.)
- She illustrates the album covers for The Decemberists, which is why I was drawn to the book in the first place. What's more, she is the supposed subject of my favorite Decemberists' song, Red Right Ankle.
- The Curiousity Chronicle gives us the scoop on the latests news coming from TMBS. Plus, there are riddles and neat little bookmarks to download (I totally made one). You can even read the first few pages, here.
- The Mysterious Benedict Society is back in action with The Perilous Journey. I've already put it on hold at my public library.
- Most of the riddles I could solve ahead of the team, I mean, I am a grown-up and all. But there's still one hanging on that I cannot solve!