I just finished The Mysterious Benedict Society and think it absolutelymust be on our Mock Newbery reading list this year. A great mystery novel for the upper elementary level reader, it features strong characters, marvelous logic puzzles, and a compelling plot line. I especially enjoyed the 4 distinct (child) characters who worked together as a team to save the world. I'd love to hear what others think of this book.
Mary is so right! This book definitely fits the "unique" criteria for a Newbery...I'm reading it now and, just when I think it will be like other mysteries I've read, a slight plot twist or intriguing bit of conversation or enlightening tidbit of information flies off the page, and I'm back on the edge of my seat! Don't be put off by the number of pages--they will turn themselves!
I’d like to add my positive comments to this discussion about The Mysterious Benedict Society. I’m a whimp when it comes to long books but these pages do indeed turn themselves. One of the things I enjoyed about the book was how certain things like teamwork, trust, honesty, intelligence, and cooperation were key elements of the plot. Some might say that those elements were more ‘in your face’ moral lessons aimed at youngsters but I thought it fit well. There were so many other great things about this book like the characters, the diabolical plot (which I felt could have used some more explanation), and the creative plot elements like how Mr. Benedict and Mr. Curtain both suffered from narcolepsy.
This was mostly fun to read and I think kids will enjoy it. The characters were initially interesting because of their diverse talents and how they fit (or didn't fit) together. But once established, they seemed rather wooden. I felt most involved in the story early on, where we got hints about mysterious conspiracies. The mad scientist climax didn't live up to my expectations. And the twist about the very young girl just seemed weird....an author's trick rather than a meaningful revelation. Should be popular, very booktalkable, but short of Newbery quality I think.
Honestly, I was disappointed by this book. I loved the beginning, I was completely intrigued after the first chapter or two, but as I read, things started to go downhill. I guess after such a strong start, I was expecting great things, and I read too much into the plot and the characters...and then, after a while, I just didn't care about the characters anymore. And I didn't like or trust Mr. Benedict. The plot seemed to drag on, and things became so unbelievable...I think kids will like it, in fact, I know of one 11-year-old reader who declared it her "new favorite book" (smile), but I agree with Steven that it's not quite up to Newbery standards.
I must have gotten a defective copy of this title. The pages stopped turning themselves at page 124!
I officially shouldn't even be commenting on a book that I didn't finish, but I think that says a little something about it. I loved it for the first few chapters. I thought it was a shame that I had waited so long to read it and then all of a sudden, I couldn't believe it anymore.
I absolutely loved reading this book to our 6th graders. It was a lot of fun to see the students make predictions and figure out problems. The book reminded me of "The Westing Game," which I also loved, so we read that one, too!!! I got to meet the author a few weeks ago, and he told me there is a sequel that will be released in May of '08! My students and I were thrilled!