The Mysterious Benedict Society

Common Sense Media says

Suspenseful mystery with a Lemony Snicket vibe.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids practice and use Morse code throughout the book. 

Positive messages

Teamwork, creative problem solving, and the love of truth, are essential to the success of the four main characters. 

Positive role models

The four main characters are very admirable and possess talents that complement one another. Reynie is extremely conscientious and great at solving puzzles and thinking about others' motivations. Sticky has a voracious appetite for knowledge and remembers everything he reads. Kate is the athlete and strategic thinker who can get out of any trap. Constance may be ill-tempered, but she's also loyal, bright, and courageous.

Violence

Some fist fighting resulting in cuts and bruises. A near kidnapping of kids ends with perpetrators being knocked out with a tranquilizer gun. Constance is shocked with a special watch and recovers. All four characters are orphans and some talk briefly of parents' deaths or disappearances. Talk of government workers going missing. Adult recalls being hit on the head, captured, and losing his memory. Mr. Benedict mentions that his parents were killed in a lab accident when he was a baby.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Mysterious Benedict Society is the story of four gifted kids, all orphans age 12 and under, who are recruited and then trained by Mr. Benedict and sent to a remote boarding school to learn more about an evil mastermind bent on taking over the world. There's little violence beyond some mild fistfighting and a near kidnapping, where perpetrators are knocked out with a tranquilizer gun. Teamwork, creative problem solving, and the love of the truth are keys to the kids' success. 

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The ad in the newspaper says, "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" Reynie, an orphan, decides that he is, and persuades the orphanage director to let him take the test. Along with three other children who pass, Reynie meets the mysterious Mr. Benedict, a narcoleptic who lives behind a maze and who has an important mission for the children. They're sent to a boarding school on an island, The Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, to find out all they can about the school's director, Ledroptha Curtain. Posing as students, they discover his plan to take over the world using mind control. But in Curtain's carefully controlled island fortress, stopping him seems impossible, even for four very gifted children.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

 At nearly 500 pages, THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY is quite long, and it drags at points, but it's a clever and suspenseful story. Cross Lemony Snicket with Blue Balliett and you'll have a good idea of the tone: a code- and puzzle- filled mystery wrapped in an over-the-top melodrama.

Every character is delightfully eccentric, there are plenty of twists and turns, and underlying it all is a wicked but understated sense of humor. Reluctant readers will be put off by its size and uneven pacing, but bright, avid readers will love it.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the puzzles and quizzes the kids in the book have to solve. Were you able to figure out any of the answers before they were revealed? Did you figure out Mr. Benedict's first name?

  • What are stories about strange, mysterious schools so popular? What others have you read? 

  • Learn more about Morse code, which figures prominently in the story. What coded message would you send?  

Book details

Author:Trenton Lee Stewart
Illustrator:Carson Ellis
Genre:Mystery
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:March 1, 2007
Number of pages:485
Read aloud:9
Read alone:10

This review of The Mysterious Benedict Society was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old June 15, 2009
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

My favorite book!

This series is the BEST series I have ever read. 4 children solve mysteries and help the world using friendship and knowledge. I read the first book when I was 7 and the second when I was 9. I loved the books! I can't WAIT until the 3rd book comes out in October. Everyone is SURE to love this book no matter what!
Adult Written byGauthier April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Great as an audio book

Our entire family listened to this book on a two day car trip. Never has a trip gone by so fast. The kids were asking to get back into the car at every stop.
Adult Written byAmyroy April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Disagree... with Common Sense media!

I was reading the reviews of this book from Common Sense Media.org and I completely and totally disagree with it. They say some parts could be chopped out because they think it should be shorter. No, completely untrue. Every word is essential to the plot and I'm disappointed they would say that. I'm a kid, 11 years of age, and I don't know if this'll be displayed on the kids page or the adult page, but I love this book and I'm thrilled it's 500 pages because it's a terrific book that should last a long time and I'm glad the sequal is also several hundred pages. Great book. One of the best I've ever read. (And that's saying something!)

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