A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that they'll find more violence in this second book in the Mysterious Benedict Society series, though the book's humor works to offset the impact of some of the more perilous parts. The less intimidating teen Executives from the first book are now joined by the Ten Men, goons who look like businessmen with briefcases full of weapons that look like everyday office supplies (pencils are darts, and a calculator is used as a bomb in one scene). The four genius kids are in even more danger this time and are captured and threatened by their enemies. Kate is often worried that her father, a spy, is in grave danger. She also practices a Houdini trick where she swallows a key so she can cough it up at will. On the plus side, there are lots of positive lessons, including one Kate learns about not using violence just because her enemies do.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Mr. Benedict's evil twin, Mr. Curtain -- who was on the run at the end of The Mysterious Benedict Society --has regrouped, recruited business suit-wearing goons called the Ten Men, and even kidnapped Mr. Benedict on the eve of a big surprise trip he has planned for his special child protégés: Constance, Reynie, Sticky, and Kate, aka The Mysterious Benedict Society. Immediately, the foursome decides to take action, abandoning their caregivers, following the clues, and hopping on the ship that Mr. Benedict booked for their passage to Portugal. As they pick up more clues and continue their journey, they soon realize that the Ten Men are hot on their trail -- one that leads to Mr. Benedict, an elusive plant with astounding properties, and, unfortunately, directly into the hands of the nefarious Mr. Curtain once again.
Is it any good?
You can say the same thing about the second installment of the Mysterious Benedict Society as you could about the first: It doesn't need to be 450 pages long. But once again, the author's indulgence is forgiven by the time you get to the last 100 of them -- the ending is action-packed. And the peril is at the hands of some pretty entertaining villains.
Readers also can't help but love Constance, Reynie, Sticky, and Kate. Constance and her moods are still hilarious, and here she further advances her gifts -- and develops some surprising new ones, too. Kate, with her falcon training and superior dexterity, is a spy in the making like her father Milligan, and they have a sweet father-daughter rapport. Reynie's conscience and quick problem-solving work overtime, and Sticky finds courage and strength he never knew he had. These are wonderful characters you'll want your kids spending hours with, even if they won't be truly riveted until the last act.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the lessons the kids learn on their journey. How do you think Kate's father Milligan influenced her decision to not use violence? How often do you find that kind of nonviolent message in the books you read or the TV shows and movies you watch? Has Reynie's opinion of people changed? Have you ever thought the way he did? What did Constance and Sticky learn about themselves? How did Mr. Benedict help Constance be more confident with her gifts?