Saturday, October 11, 2008

Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart is a book that was written for grades 5-9 according to the School Library Journal. It's been all the rave on "What's On Your Nightstand" by moms who have been reading along either with their kids or because their kids have raved about the book.

It's difficult to find a book that my girls (who are 14 and in 9th grade) find exciting enough to keep their interest but is yet "clean" enough to meet our standards. They are not interested in reading teenage romance, and we are not interested in them reading it.

That said, we decided that we would try The Mysterious Benedict Society and it's sequel The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. I would have preferred to read at least the first book prior to them reading it, but that just wasn't possible. We usually do that with new authors just to make sure it's an acceptable book, but if I'd been very concerned about it, I would not have let them read it until I made sure I had time.

My girls devoured these two books and had them completed in less than one week. I had the first book completed within a couple of days. It was an easy read and an engaging story. The plot is fairly simple but not elementary. The children have to learn to work together even though they are all extremely different in both personality and areas of intelligence. The antagonist is clearly defined without seeming so evil that he's scary. The plot twists are unexpected in most cases but yet simple to follow.

The one thing I disliked about the book is that the children cheat at one point and they lie to keep themselves out of trouble, going so far as to implicate someone else that was innocent. The children are very troubled with these things because it goes so strongly against their moral grain of right and wrong. The author then handles this second act of implicating an innocent person by not having the person punished but instead rewarded, which is somewhat confusing to the children, but completely understandable in the mind of the antagonist.

These things definitely open up areas of discussion with our children, and it really boils down to difficult decisions that must be faced in daily life. These were fictional accounts that were a little farfetched, but don't we all have to decide whether to accept responsibility at some point in our lives for doing something that we'd rather not? I know I have. It's not always pleasant, but that's where we have to hope we have instilled that sense of right and wrong in our children and hope they make the right decisions when we aren't around.

The Mysterious Benedict Society was an excellent book that was well-written, never boring, and clean, with a tiny little surprise at the very end. I am going to read the sequel, too. Right after I finish reading all those other books on my very long list!

1 comment:

Angela said...

Hi Kayren! Thanks for stopping by my blog from Lora's site! I am laughing at your comments about the Sudoku vs. math - and your instinct was correct - I love sudoku because it's all puzzle, no actual math involved, LOL! I'm an English/verbal girl (English major, in fact) all the way! I can do math, just don't like it.

Definitely grab some Honeycrisp apples while you can get them - the season is just a couple months and ends soon. They are sooooo good.

Hope you'll visit again soon!

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