#MGTakesOnThursday: The Mysterious Benedict Society Series by Trenton Lee Stewart

Image created by @MarySimms72 and used with permission.

This is a weekly meme started and hosted by @marysimms72 on her brilliant Book Craic blog which I urge you to read. Also, please check out all the other posts and Tweets with the #MGTakesOnThursday tag, you will be sure to find many fantastic recommendations!

If you love books written for an MG audience and wish to take part, the steps to follow are:

  • Post a picture of a front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
  • Write three words to describe the book
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.
Cover art by Ross Collins, published by Chicken House Books

Author: Trenton Lee Stewart

Illustrators: Carson Ellis, Ross Collins, Diana Sudyka

Publisher: Chicken House Books

Favourite sentence from Page 11: 

After a few more pages of questions, all of which Reynie felt confident he had answered correctly, he arrived at the test’s final question: ‘Are you brave?’

This book in three words: Complex – Mystery – Friendship

I was prompted to retrieve these books from the bookcase when I saw that The Mysterious Benedict Society had been released as a series on the Disney channel recently. I originally bought these three books about seven or eight years ago, based entirely on the name, with absolutely no reading of reviews or recommendations…and what a supreme piece of judgement!

I read them as bedtime stories to my youngest who was in Year 5 or 6 at the time, and a huge fan of MG Mystery/Spy books such as Ruby Redfort, The Sinclair Mysteries and the MMU series. We were both utterly hooked by the complex plotting, brilliant characterisation, and sense of foreboding combined with whimsy. You can probably tell from the battered covers that they have been re-read on more than one occasion! They centre around a team of four orphans who are recruited through a bank of tests, by the eponymous Mr Benedict, initially to infiltrate the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened and uncover the identity of “the Sender”, a shadowy individual who is broadcasting subliminal disinformation and controlling the behaviour of the inhabitants of Stonetown through “The Emergency”. The plot seems strangely prescient in the light of the events of the past few years.

The four child protagonists , Reynie, Sticky, Constance and Kate, all possess extraordinary talents which they must find a way of combining in order to outwit their fearsome foe. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the first book is the interactive element of solving the coded problems alongside the team of undercover child spies. The magnificent writing draws you in to Reynie’s utterly loveable and quirky character from page one, and once hooked you are unlikely to want to do anything else until you have completed the third book. These stories are perfect for class read-alouds or bedtime stories, with their compelling, page-turning, plots and are fantastic independent reads for confident readers of 9+. I would highly recommend them to fans of Malamander, The Series of Unfortunate Events, Alex Rider or the books I mentioned earlier in the review.

5 thoughts on “#MGTakesOnThursday: The Mysterious Benedict Society Series by Trenton Lee Stewart

  1. What a fab review. I am getting these books this weekend as we started watching the series on Disney + and are loving it. I pass by these books all the time in schools and am always tempted but now I know I need the full set!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for recommending these Veronica. I’d heard of them but didn’t really know much about them. They sound wonderful – if only time could slow down so I could get more reading done!

    Liked by 2 people

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