The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict SocietyWritten By: Trenton Lee Stewart


When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests.  (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.)  But in the end just four very special children will succeed.  Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete.  With their newfound friendships at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?


The summary is from the book cover, provided by Little, Brown and Company

This book is amazing!  I always love books that are filled with clever characters and I found that I was constantly trying to keep up with the discoveries they were making.  I also like that the adults were geniuses as well.  I think it ups the “game” for the kids when they have intelligent foes and caretakers because they are trying to outsmart people who really know what they are doing.  This story is an intriguing mystery with strong, likable characters that agree to a seemingly impossible task for the sake of helping a world full of people they don’t even know.  Definitely a great read!

Discussion/Project Ideas:

These ideas were hard for me because I didn’t want them to be too difficult, but I also saw great opportunities for connections.  So here goes.

1.  The school in this book is based on taking small ideas and basically using them to brainwash children.  It may seem a little strange in the book that the whole school was based on this and the students didn’t seem to catch on, but that is very similar to what Hitler did in WWII.  He picked out bits of information about Jews that he deemed to be true and taught it to his soldiers and the youth of Germany in order to give them a deeper sense of connection to his cause.  Research this.  I urge you to find a variety of sources and compare what you find.  Present the information in your own unique way.  Brainstorm with friends or with your class about other times in history that “brainwashing” has been recorded.

2.  Schools are interesting beasts to me.  They are available to everyone and with the exception of homeschoolers, most children attend school in some type of classroom.  I would like for you to try to interview someone from the following places: public school, private school, home school, religious school.  It can be students or adults, but make sure that they know you don’t want any silly answers.  Create a questionnaire and ask them what they think the perfect school would have or be.  Compile the answers and compare them to what you think.  Write a five paragraph essay on the three most important things you think the perfect school would have or be, keeping in mind the variety of opinions you have heard in your interviews.

3.  All through this book, there was a character that was portrayed in such a way (one of the students at the school) that I was expecting him to eventually take a larger role.  This didn’t pan out the way I expected.  Write about anything in the book that you think could have been expanded on.  Tell how you would have done it differently.

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